With hurricanes consistently making landfall each year, it is important pharmacies are as best prepared as possible for these storms. Hurricanes and State of Emergency issuances can lead to many concerns among patients, so having a plan in place and proactively checking it can help tremendously during this stressful time. Below we will be sharing tips to help you prepare your pharmacy for a possible hurricane.
10 Hurricane Preparedness Tips for Pharmacies:
Establish if the pharmacy is in the flood zone. There are many sites online dedicated to distinguishing which zone you are in. Knowing your flood risk will greatly help you in preparing.
Website option to check flood zone: https://msc.fema.gov/portal/search
Power/internet outages may occur – have a list of phone numbers or information that you may need to access that you will not be able to look up. A few items you may need are:
- Phone numbers of your team
- Phone number to the local Board of Pharmacy
- Phone number to your medication wholesaler/supplier
- Phone number to pharmacy peers in case a shift is needed to be picked up
Reach out to your medication delivery company ahead of time to know what their anticipated delivery schedule is for pre & post-hurricane.
Determine what medications/paperwork may need to be placed in waterproof containers/bags. For instance, will the C2’s need to be placed in a waterproof bag then into the safe and inventoried prior to the hurricane, or will they be fine just in the safe?
Check if any inventories need to be completed prior to the hurricane preparedness. For instance, are you due for a C2 inventory? Are you due to inventory medical supplies? Check off these tasks prior to the hurricane in case you are unable to open back up on time.
Update your IVR & messaging systems with information pertinent to your customers. A few messaging options include:
- Store hours
- Anticipated store closing dates
- State of Emergency information
- Emergency Supply limitations
- First Aid items needed at home for the storm
Ensure a plan is in place between the team if members are unable to make it to work post-hurricane, there are available pharmacists, technicians, or interns to cover those shifts.
Providing your patients with education on where they can fill their medications if they are evacuating from the hurricane is extremely helpful. For instance, if your pharmacy is closed, they will need a new script from their doctor vs. being able to transfer.
Creating a medication delivery plan for post-hurricane. If the roads are not clear, will certain locations be unable to receive deliveries? Considering this prior can lead to mapping of roads and locations to check the flood zones they are in.
Have a plan for all fridge & freezer items. Are these items hooked up to a generator? Will you be able to track the temperature remotely to ensure no changes while the pharmacy is closed for the hurricane? Power outages can occur regularly in the pharmacy, but double-checking your plan and ensuring everything is hooked up properly can be extremely helpful in this situation.
Preparing for Next Time
Gather with your team post-hurricane to discuss how your plan went. What was smooth that you should continue for next time? What was a learning experience that can be adjusted so it’s smoother in the future? Then, once you have a plan in place – put it into writing. Create a “Hurricane Handbook” or manual for your pharmacy so your team is always prepared.
We hope these tips were helpful and will lead to as smoothly as possible hurricane season for you and your pharmacy teams.