Victims of a catastrophic storm, such as Hurricane Sandy, have many immediate needs with food, shelter and transportation. It’s critical, though, that they not put off planning for adequate medicine supplies in the days before and after the natural disaster.

Many of today’s insurance companies limit the quantities of drugs that can be purchased in a single visit or order. Typically, a three-month supply, used for maintenance drugs through a mail-order pharmacy, is the maximum. Assuming a patient refills his or her prescriptions on time, there should always be a sufficient supply on hand.

However, there are a number of reasons a patient may not use a mail-order pharmacy. They may be starting a new medication for an underlying condition or taking a drug for an acute illness. Filling these prescriptions requires a trip to the local pharmacy. If a patient thinks he or she will need more medication during a hurricane than what the doctor has prescribed, a local pharmacy can request that the insurance company override its policies.

Keep a List of Prescriptions

In case of evacuation, it is important for people who take prescriptions to keep a written record or notation on their mobile phones of medication names and doses.

Residents also should stock up on over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies that they use on a regular basis or might need during an emergency. The International Hurricane Protection Association recommends that each household have a first-aid kit, rubbing alcohol, aspirin, non-aspirin pain reliever and antacids.

Storage of drugs and medical supplies during a hurricane should be planned with the potential for wind and water damage to homes, and even flooding, in mind. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends placing medicine containers  in zip-closed plastic bags and keeping the bags in a place unlikely to be affected by the storm. If medicine is touched by floodwater, do not use it, the agency advises.

What to Do if Your Medicine Requires Refrigeration

Diabetes patients, and others who must take liquid drugs that require refrigeration, should be prepared with small coolers and ice or cooling packs. If that is not possible, the FDA says that insulin products can be stored without refrigeration — between 59 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit — for up to 28 days and still maintain potency. Still, the agency advises patients to replace any unrefrigerated medicines as soon as possible after the storm passes.

When it is feasible for people to begin safely moving around outside after a hurricane, those who have limited supplies of their medicines should seek ways to refill prescriptions. Pharmacies in hard-hit areas may be closed for days or weeks after a storm, so this may mean traveling to neighboring areas.

If your pet requires medicine, don’t forget to to maintain his or her supplies as well.