Why Cancer Patients Need a Natural Disaster Plan
People with cancer have more to think about and prepare for in the event of an emergency.
They have to think about maintaining their treatment schedule and keeping up with their medications. Disasters such as hurricane Ian in 2022 can disrupt essential services, such as power, cell phone service and travel routes for days or weeks.
If power is down and roads are blocked, how will cancer patients access the chemotherapy they’re scheduled to have or get a refill on the prescription they need?
These are important things for people with mesothelioma to discuss with family and health care providers before an emergency occurs.
Planning ahead for an emergency or natural disaster is stressful but necessary. The more you do to prepare ahead of time, the better equipped you and your family will be to respond.
Make an Emergency Plan for Your Family
Not everyone goes through the effort and stress of making an emergency plan for their family, but they should.
The foundation of your emergency plan, such as evacuation routes, should be worked out with your family first. Then, cancer patients and their caregivers can make an emergency plan for cancer care.
What to Determine Before an Emergency
- Your shelter plan
- Your evacuation route
- Your family communication plan
- How you’ll keep your pets safe
- How you will receive emergency alerts and warnings
What to Print Out Before a Crisis
- Local phone numbers for emergency resources, including the fire department and police
- Phone numbers for the utility companies that supply your electricity, water and gas
- Email and phone numbers of your family members and neighbors
Discuss your emergency plan with your family to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Make multiple copies of your plan and important contact information. Each member of your family should have a copy.
Make an Emergency Plan for Cancer Care
Cancer patients have a weakened immune system that makes them susceptible to infection, bleeding, injury and fatigue.
Factors to Consider When Making a Cancer Emergency Plan
- Talk to your oncologist and other health care providers about how to reach them in the event of a disaster.
- Print out contact information for your health care providers.
- Write down the phone number of the National Cancer Institute Contact Center, which you can contact for guidance on where to seek cancer care in the event of an emergency: 1-800-422-6237.
- Carry your insurance card with you at all times.
- Know your diagnosis, cancer stage, treatments you’ve undergone and the current medications you take. This is easier to print out than remember during times of stress.
- Make a medical kit with any items you regularly use such as medications, creams, antiseptic and bandages. Place them in a sealable bag to keep moisture out.
- Pack a medical mask and hand sanitizer in your medical kit in case you need to take refuge in a public shelter. These items will protect you from germs and infection.
Tips for Mesothelioma Patients
People with mesothelioma may have unique needs during a disaster.
For example, some mesothelioma patients have medical devices that require special maintenance or travel accommodations.
Mesothelioma Emergency Preparedness
- Know how to transport any medical devices you use such as oxygen tanks.
- Keep handy a set of batteries, a cell phone charger and a solar charger as backup power for medical devices and your cell phone.
- Make an emergency travel pack containing water, snacks, first aid supplies and any other items you might need.
Cancer emergency preparedness requires time and effort. People with mesothelioma may not feel like they have the energy to make an emergency plan, but they need one and should reach out to family and caregivers for help.
Don’t wait until a disaster strikes. Prepare now to make things easier on yourself in case of an emergency.