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Staying Weather Aware: Tips For Cancer Patients And Caregivers

February 12, 2024

When it comes to the weather in Texas, you know the saying, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a minute.” Snowstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes, scorching heat, drought conditions—Texas has it all (and sometimes multiple weather events in one week)!

For people with cancer, the impact of weather events and natural disasters can be difficult and disruptive as they try to navigate their care. Thoughtful advance planning can mitigate challenges presented by the weather.

The weather and natural disasters can also impact medical facilities and care teams when staff are not be able to commute to their place of employment due to flooding, icy roads, or power outages. Damaged infrastructure from floods, tornadoes, or hurricanes can result in a loss of medical records, tissue samples, and medications.

Here are some helpful tips for cancer patients and caregivers to prepare in the event of an impending weather situation:

List and gather personal needs

Emergencies are unpredictable at any time of the year. It is important to have a bag ready with the personal needs you could not do without in an emergency, or if you have to evacuate your home for an undetermined amount of time.

Protect and make copies of important documents

If a big storm or extreme weather event is forecasted, gather health records, insurance policies, key phone numbers, and prescription medications. Refill prescriptions that are running low. Seal water-vulnerable items in a resealable plastic bag and pack them in a handy small backpack or tote that can be carried easily if a quick departure or evacuation becomes necessary.

Contact your physician

It is a good idea to consult with your physician to map out “plan b” treatment options in advance if weather conditions are predicted to be less than ideal. Information regarding clinic hours and closings should be posted continuously on organization websites, so keep phones charged to maintain connectivity. An extra battery pack or quick-charge device is a good item to pack in an emergency kit.

In the event some healthcare facilities are temporarily closed, patients may need interim treatment and care options. Check with your care team to see if telemedicine is an option for certain treatments or follow up appointments.

Pick up groceries and essentials in advance

Getting to a store can be hard before, during, or after a weather event. From stores closing or selling out of items to road closures, there are many obstacles that make routine tasks difficult for cancer patients and their caregivers to navigate. When the roads are safe, patients may consider asking a caregiver, family member, or friend to drive them to the store or drop off relief supplies, such as groceries, toiletries, and essential clothing items.

Stay informed and ask for help

Stay informed about impending weather conditions with emergency alert messages or mobile-friendly apps that provide detailed information about weather. There are many resources readily available to help prepare for emergency situations. You don’t have to do it all alone. Reach out to friends and family for help and support as needed.

No matter the weather in Texas, cancer patients can ensure their safety with a personal disaster response plan in place, and taking appropriate precaution to be ready when a weather event occurs.

For upcoming webinars visit www.TexasOncologyFoundation.org.