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Prepare now for hurricane season

From â€‹Tashawna Gaines, Emergency Preparedness Manager for Lee Health

Hurricane season officially begins in just over three weeks, and if you don’t already have a hurricane kit and plan in place, now is the time to do so. Your health should be an important part of that plan.

In addition to stocking up on nonperishable foods, bottled water and batteries, you need to make preparations for your health as well.

A few simple steps can make all the difference when a storm hits.

The first thing you should do is to make sure you have plenty of your prescription medications and other essential medical supplies, like oxygen. To prepare, consider getting refills of your medications ahead of the storm. Some pharmacies may not open immediately after a hurricane and you don’t want to be left without your prescriptions. Florida law allows pharmacies to refill prescriptions ahead of time in the event of a hurricane warning. Also, keep in mind, if your medications require refrigeration, be sure you have enough ice to keep them cool for several days.

You also need to have an evacuation plan ready to go so that you and your family will know where to go if you’re evacuated from your home. If you choose to stay at home, make sure you know how to properly use your generator, as they are one of the leading causes of injury and death following a storm.

Always position generators outdoors and away from structures to prevent carbon monoxide exposure. Be sure to disconnect power coming into your home to prevent sending power back to area power lines, which may be damaged. If your generator isn’t installed as part of your home’s systems, use heavy duty, outdoor-rated extension cords plugged directly into the generator.

If you require specialty care, Lee County has a Special Medical Needs Shelter that will be open for those with medical needs that require electricity, such as oxygen dependence, dialysis, ventilators, nebulizers, etc. Visit for more information about how to register. Please remember – Lee Health hospitals are not storm shelters.

At Lee Health, we are prepared to care for all of those who need it during a storm. All of our hospitals are certified as 'StormReady' by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The certification means that Lee Health has met a rigorous set of standards that are designed to educate the community on how to stay safe in a severe weather event. These standards include a 24-hour operations center, promotion of public readiness and the creation of a hazardous weather plan that trains weather spotters and holds emergency exercises.

Some of the most common medical issues after a hurricane are heat-related illnesses. While young children, the elderly and those with medical conditions are the most susceptible, we’re all at risk of overexposure to the heat if we don’t take proper precautions, especially considering you may not have electricity to power air conditioners. If you’re working outside after a storm, make sure you hydrate with plenty of water and wear a hat, along with light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.

Also, please be aware of any storm surge and flooding that a hurricane may bring.

Floodwater can pose a drowning risk for everyone, regardless of their ability to swim. Swiftly moving shallow water can be deadly, and even shallow standing water can be dangerous for small children.