Emergency preparedness is important for everyone. Weather conditions can disrupt electricity, water, and shipping. You should always have canned goods, flashlights, water, extra batteries, and an emergency radio on hand just in case. But what if you have a medical condition, like an ostomy? This brings a whole new reason for emergency preparedness. Most people have their ostomy supplies delivered to their home directly from an online medical supply store. When shipping halts due to impassable roads, you need to have a backup plan. Earthquakes, flooding, snow may not affect your immediate area but that does not mean they won't affect your supplies being shipped. This past winter I was speaking with a woman in San Diego and she couldn't imagine how snow in Knoxville, TN meant her package was delayed for several days. She was out of supplies and because her state is famous for amazing weather she didn't plan for an emergency. She was forced to spend an entire day without an ostomy pouch. Luckily it wasn't longer!
What should you have in your emergency ostomy bag? How many supplies should you have on hand? I think it is a good idea to aim for a 3 week supply. This is especially true if you are relying on your supplies to be shipped to you. When there is a weather emergency, it will affect a lot of people. Once normal shipping resumes you are liable to run into issues with your supplies being on backorder. 3 weeks sounds like a lot, but if you live on the east or west coast sometimes shipping can take up to 7 business days, and that is if they are in stock. Having an ostomy means you must look ahead and plan for all those maybes.
- Cut to Fit ostomy bags, enough for 3 weeks (I would recommend cut to fit so you avoid sizing issues)
- Scissors or an stoma opening hole cutter
- Water proof plastic bin that holds supplies comfortably
- Clean water
- Skin cleanser that does not have lotions or oils or added fragrance
- Ostomy pouch liners
- Ostomy Disposal Bags
- Adhesive remover wipes
- Skin prep wipes
- Exam gloves, in an emergency, you don't know what the conditions will be when you have to change your pouch
Having an emergency kit isn't just about supplies it is also about being ready. One way to do that is to have written documentation of your medical information. Your cell may not work, your internet could be down, you still need to be able to get the medical care you need.
General Medical Information to Have Inside Your Kit:
- Doctors full name and phone number, including the hospital they are associated with
- Ostomy supply store address and phone number
- Reference numbers for all supplies to make reordering easier, make sure you write down the manufacturer
- Ostomy care instructions for family members in case you are not able to take care of your ostomy yourself. It is important that whenever possible a person in your household is capable of helping you care for your ostomy in case of an emergency.