Photograph pills, bottles to prepare for any disaster
  • Thursday, January 17, 2019
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Hawaii News| Kokua Line

Photograph pills, bottles to prepare for any disaster


Question: The experts say to have extra medication in your hurricane kit. That’s easy enough for over-the-counter stuff, but what about for prescriptions? I have limits on the number of times I can refill a prescription without a doctor’s appointment, plus there are intervals for the refills … Other insurers have similar rules. … So, how do we “stock up” on prescription medication for the hurricane kit?

Answer: We have received similar queries from other readers. We sought answers from HMSA, Kaiser Permanente and others. Before sharing their advice, we’ll note that disaster preparedness experts advise having at least two weeks’ worth of medication on hand — not storing it in the garage from June through November (hurricane season), as people do with canned goods and bottled water.

Medication may expire or be affected by temperature changes or humidity in long-term storage. Rather, the idea is to replenish prescriptions often enough during hurricane season to avoid depleting your supply as a storm nears. You may request an early refill. Contact your doctor, pharmacy or insurance company for specifics.

Here’s more information from the Hawaii Medical Serv­ice Association (HMSA):

“Making sure that our members have the medications they need in any emergency is very important. As long as the prescription in question isn’t a controlled substance (for example, opioids), we have policies in place that allow our members to get emergency fills at any pharmacy in the HMSA network. The processes we have in place will allow for up to a 30-day supply, depending on the prescription.”

Although it’s too late for Hurricane Lane, signing up to receive your prescriptions by mail is another good option, especially considering how long hurricane season lasts.

“Kaiser Permanente offers a mail-order pharmacy program that can deliver a three-month supply of most chronic medications right to your door. Refills can be ordered by phone or online at once 70 percent of pills are used. For a 90-day order that would be at day 63, ensuring more than the recommended 14-day supply,” said Laura M. Lott, a spokeswoman for Kaiser Permanente Hawaii.

“Other best practices for medication safety include keeping a list of all your prescriptions and storing photos of your pills and pill bottles on your smart phone. If you have a clear image of the label, dosage instructions, size and shape of the pill it will make refills during disaster recovery much easier and safer,” Lott said.

You might also give a list of your prescriptions to your emergency contact for safekeeping. Include the names and phone numbers of your doctors and pharmacies too.

Also, make sure your medication is stored properly to survive the disaster. Keep it in its original container, then double bag it in a waterproof zipper bag. Keep medication containers together in the same waterproof bag if you can, as long as you follow the storage instructions for each. If a certain medication needs to be refrigerated, for example, keep it that way for as long as you can.

Keep your health insurance card and/or prescription-drug benefit card with you at all times.


Auwe to our inconsiderate neighbors up in Waialae Nui Ridge who never ever trim their tall trees for years. We have lived here as original owners for 46 years and how we miss our long-lost views of Diamond Head, Waikiki and the city. — A reader


Such great thanks to the neighbors who have looked in on me these past few days to make sure I have water, canned goods, etc. They know that I am old and live alone. I am vulnerable, so I don’t want to give my name, but I hope they can recognize themselves as my angels. — Lucky in Kaimuki

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