Dr. Madeleine Rodriguez, vice president of Health Services for CarePlus Health Plans, Inc., is encouraging Floridians, and particularly seniors with chronic medical conditions, to take action now to protect their health during the 2020 hurricane season, which is being complicated due to COVID-19 and predicted to be above average.

“Planning for hurricane season is always important, especially for seniors with medical conditions like diabetes or COPD, and this year poses new challenges so we all need to prepare now,” said Rodriguez.

In addition to stocking up on basic supplies like water, flashlights, batteries and non-perishable foods, Rodriguez encourages seniors in particular to include these five steps:

1. Prepare your emergency kit with flashlights, face masks, food, first aid supplies, hand sanitizer, medicines and more. Include copies of your health insurance cards, identification cards, doctors and pharmacy contact information and medication details. People living with diabetes should include blood glucose testing supplies including lancets, test strips, at least two glucose meters with extra batteries, and a cooler with multiple re-freezable packs. If possible, avoid crowds at the store by using a delivery service.

2. Take advantage of 30- to 90-day mail order pharmacy services from your health benefits provider to ensure you don’t run out of medicine if businesses are closed or you are away from home.

3. To avoid forgetting critical medical equipment during emergency evacuations, make a list of what you would need to take with you, such as a cane, walker, glasses, insulin, and hearing aids and batteries.

4. If you or a loved one require power to operate medical equipment – such as oxygen, nebulizers or sleep apnea masks – be sure to secure a generator or alternate power source early in the season to avoid scrambling for this equipment right before the storm.

5. Pre-register for a Special Needs Shelter. Special Needs Shelters are temporary emergency facilities capable of providing care to residents whose medical condition exceeds the capabilities of the Red Cross Shelter but is not severe enough to require hospitalization.