Pandemics and Disease Outbreaks

Preparing Your Health for Disease Outbreaks

  • Fill prescriptions on time or ahead of time, if you can 
    • Call your pharmacist to ask if your prescriptions can be filled early 
  • Try to keep non-perishable food, water, and can openers on hand
    • Go for canned meats, fruits and vegetables that are ready to eat, and can be used in a renal diet
    • Protein bars, cereal and granola, and dried fruit are great snacks to have
  • Fully charge your electronic devices, and pack spare batteries and chargers 
    • To conserve battery: limit the use of unnecessary apps and switch your phone to low-power mode when fully charged 
  • Keep a list of your local healthcare facilities, with addresses, phone numbers, and emails/websites 
    • Consider these facilities:
      • Hospitals/ERs
      • Pharmacies
      • Urgent care clinics
      • Ancillary care: 
        • Dialysis Centers, Cancer Treatment Centers 
  • Make sure you know your prescription medication and health information – use Rx on the Run to keep a list of your prescriptions
    • Rx on the Run is a personalized wallet-sized card that lists your prescriptions with the latest dosage and instructions 
  • Plan for any chronic conditions you may have 
    • Diabetes: Talk to your pharmacist about keeping a supply of insulin on hand – Try to refrain from eating sugar and other carbohydrates 
    • Kidney disease: Make sure you have access to dialysis treatment and use the renal diet
    • Cardiovascular disease & hypertension: Try to refrain from high-salt and fatty food and aim for 30 minutes of activity a day to manage your blood pressure
    • Pulmonary disease: Work with your supplier to understand options for keeping resupplies of oxygen with you 
    • Disability: Identify a trusted caretaker if necessary 
    • Aging: Post emergency numbers near every house phone and cellular phone 
    • Asthma: Have a plan to ensure you have a supply of your asthma medications and supplies
  • Keep a list of helpful hotlines 
    • Healthcare Ready: 1-866-247-2694
    • FEMA Disaster Assistance Helpline: 1-800-621-3362
    • Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 (or text “TalkWithUS” to 66746)
    • Kidney Community Emergency Response (KCER): 1-866-901-3773
    • Red Cross: 1-800-733-2767
    • American Diabetes Association: 1-800-342-2283
    • American Heart Association: 1-800-242-8721
    • American Association of People with Disabilities: 1-800-840-8844
    • American Stroke Association: 1-888-478-7653

Protecting Your Health During an Outbreak

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or use hand sanitizing gel, and avoid touching your face, nose, and mouth
  • Disinfect surfaces you touch regularly (like desks, doorknobs, and phones) as often as you can
  • Avoid traveling to areas and regions where there is a concentration of cases
  • Avoid interactions with those who are sick
  • If you are sick and think you may have been exposed to the disease
    • Call your doctor and let them know your symptoms
    • Try to stay home and keep distance from others
    • Work with your employer to determine their sick leave policy, which may be more generous during an outbreak
    • Cover your hands and mouth when you sneeze and cough
  • Only follow health advice from your healthcare providers and trusted public health sources like CDC.gov (and WHO.int during a global pandemic)
  • Make sure your medications remain stable 
    • Some medicines must remain within a certain temperature range
    • Tip: insulin can remain stable between 59°F and 86°F for up to 28 days1
  • Use RxOpen.org to find open pharmacies near you 
  • Drink plenty of bottled water and avoid skipping meals or eating spoiled food 
    • Eat nutrient-rich, non-perishable foods such as fruits and vegetables 
  • Check with your health insurance provider for emergency support resources and hotlines 
    • Start by calling the number on the back of your insurance card for assistance 
    • If you don’t have insurance, call 2-1-1 and ask about local services that may be able to help
    • If there is a disaster declaration, you can also try to apply for FEMA Disaster Assistance for financial support by calling 800-621-3362 or visiting DisasterAssistance.gov

1 https://www.fda.gov/drugs/emergency-preparedness-drugs/information-regarding-insulin-storage-and-switching-between-products-emergency

This tip sheet was created thanks to generous support from Eli Lilly and Company.