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10 Tips for Preparing your Pharmacy for Hurricane Season

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. 

2023 Hurricane Season Predictions

 

The NOAA is predicting 12 to 17 total named storms from June 1st to November 30th 2023, with September being the peak month. Of those, 5 to 9 could become hurricanes, and 1 to 4 of those could be catastrophic. The NOAA is 70% confident in these predictions. To make sure your pharmacy is well prepared for this hurricane season, be sure to plan ahead by checking out the 10 tips we have complied below. 

Preparing Your Pharmacy for Hurricane Season

1) Know Your Flood Risk 

Establish if your pharmacy is in a 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. 

While high-risk zones require flood insurance, if you are not in a high-risk zone it is important to consider whether or not you want to purchase commercial flood insurance. Commercial flood insurance will protect your business against direct physical losses caused by floods which could be a threat outside required zones.

2) Plan for Power Outages

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:

3) Check Delivery Times

Contact your medication delivery company ahead of time to determine their anticipated delivery schedule before and after the hurricane. This information will help you plan medication availability for your patients

4) Prepare Your Facility

If you are in a high-risk flood zone, you should consider boarding up your pharmacy and safely storing everything and  putting sandbags in front of doors in case of flooding.

Determine what 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.

During hurricanes and other natural disasters, it is common for crime rates and looting to increase. Even if the wind isn’t strong enough to do damage, you should still board up your windows to protect from looting just in case. You should also consider locking up certain medications that would be targeted by looters. 

5) Conduct Inventory 

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.

6) Update Your IVR Messaging 

Update your IVR messaging 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 are recommended at home for the storm

7) Locate Employees to Cover Shifts

Ensure a plan is in place should some team members be unable to make it to work post-hurricane. Before you open back up you’ll want to make sure there are available pharmacists, technicians, or interns to cover those shifts. If your pharmacy decides to stay open, you should also be prepared for a surge in demand and try to make sure the pharmacy is staffed accordingly to meet the needs of your community. 

8) Educate Your Patients

Providing your patients with education on where they can fill their medications if they are evacuating for 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. Communicating this information with your patients using bulk texting or automated outbound calling is a great way to make sure your communications reach as many patients as possible. 

9) Create a Post Hurricane Delivery Plan

Create a medication delivery plan for post-hurricane. If the roads are not clear, will certain locations be unable to receive deliveries? Considering this prior may consist of to mapping of roads and locations to check the flood zones they are in.

10) Prepare a Plan for Fridge & Freezer Items 

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. Having an Emergency Response plan in place for any potential disasters that could strike is imperative to make your pharmacy so your team is always prepared for whatever nature may bring. 

We hope these tips were helpful and will lead to as smooth as possible hurricane season for you and your pharmacy teams.

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