[HEALTH.MIL] Emergency Preparation for Families with Special Health Needs

  • From: HEALTH.MIL@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • To: <HEALTH.MIL@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>, <TFL@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 2 Jul 2013 14:18:19 -0500

Emergency Preparation for Families with Special Health Needs 

The 2013 hurricane season began June 1, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration predicts a very active season. Hurricanes and other disasters
present a serious danger to anyone living in their path, but families with
members who have special health needs face unique challenges when disaster
strikes. These families need to make additional preparations in case the worst
It's important to remember that families may have to rely on their own resources
following a disaster. A common misconception is that government assistance is
available immediately. It can take several days or even weeks for federal aid to
arrive, depending on the size of the disaster and the number of people affected.

During emergencies, TRICARE sometimes waives referral and authorization
requirements and allows beneficiaries to obtain extra doses of their
prescription medication. 

Sign up for state-specific TRICARE disaster alerts at www.tricare.mil/disaster.
The first step is to have a disaster plan. The plan should have information on
meeting places, important personal information for each family member and
locations for where family members are likely to be if a disaster strikes. The
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a template families can use to
build their plan at www.ready.gov/make-a-plan. 
All families should also have a disaster kit including water, food, extra
batteries and a first aid kit. Visit www.ready.gov/basic-disaster-supplies-kit
for more details on how to build a disaster kit.
Families with special health needs may have to consider what to do with
medications that have to be refrigerated, and what to do if a family member
requires a climate controlled environment if the power goes out. If you live
near a military base and are part of the Exceptional Family Member Program
(EFMP), contact the local EFMP office and ask if the base has a plan to support
family members with special medical needs during a disaster.
If the disaster plans involves going to an emergency evacuation shelter, make
sure to bring everything needed to support a family member with special needs.
Don't assume the shelter will have medications, incontinence supplies, medical
equipment or other items. Expect to sleep on a cot or on the floor and bring any
necessary positioning pillows or other specialty bedding. Families with a
service animal should bring its tags, license, medication, food, water, bags for
waste and other items it may need.
As with many other aspects of living with a family member who has special
medical needs, preparing for a disaster requires additional thought and
preparation. Each family's needs are unique, but some tips apply to most - pack
light, bring an extra pair of reading glasses or hearing aid batteries and bring
all relevant medical information, including a list of allergies and military IDs
or insurance cards. Share emergency plans in advance to help family members with
a communication disability and prepare emergency plan reminders in a form they
can comprehend during a tense situation.
FEMA maintains a website, www.ready.gov, with a wealth of information about
preparing for disasters. A list of resources for families with special health
needs can be found at www.disability.gov/emergency_preparedness. Always be
prepared for a disaster, and if the worst happens, think safety first.
Preparing in advance can relieve a great deal of stress and make a big
difference when facing an emergency.

SOURCE:  TRICARE News Release at

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