Tag: pill box

When pills and prescriptions run out . . .

Last day's worth of pills in pill box
“Oh dear,this is my last day’s worth of pills.”

How many prescription medicines do you take? When you add up all the pills, drops, injections, teas, lotions and medicinal oils for every member of the family – including pets – how many do you get?

Many families take dozens of pills and prescriptions every single week! Our ability to afford them aside, we have gotten accustomed to being reminded to refill our prescriptions. We count on picking up refills at the local pharmacy or getting them by mail, whenever we order them.

In an emergency, what will happen if you run out?

Will you be troubled  . . . or will your life, or the life of a family member, actually be threatened?

This Advisory has been inspired by a report I heard on the news last night. Actually, it was a phone call coming from a quarantined passenger on one of the cruise ships being held off the coast of Japan. “I ran out of insulin. And although the ship promised they were working on getting me more, it wasn’t happening. Finally I called on friends back home who got my prescription filled and mailed it to me here on the ship. I’m expecting it to arrive tomorrow.”

Going on a cruise isn’t normally considered an emergency! But as we have seen, anything can happen.

Let’s take a look at pills and prescriptions so an unexpected event in our lives doesn’t become a disaster.

Getting an extra supply of essential medicines.

Know what’s essential for you!

Over-the-counter drugs are easy enough. Just buy a few of the ones you take regularly and be sure they are in your Survival Kits or long-term Shelter-in-Place stores.

When it comes to the essential pills and prescriptions, talk with your doctor. Understand which pills you could discontinue without a severe reaction. (You may be pleasantly surprised . . .!)

Ask your doctor for an “emergency preparedness prescription” for 2 weeks or a month’s supply. At the same time, start now to apply for regularly-scheduled refills a few days early. Squirrel away a few extra pills at the end of each month until you have your stash.

Action Item: Try to get at least a 2 weeks extra supply of prescription medicines!

Storing pills and medicines safely.

Many pills have a statement on the label that says something like: Store in dark, dry place. Some eye drops say they need to be refrigerated. Directions on insulin may say “Store in refrigerator.” but the label may continue with something like, “If refrigeration is not available, store at room temperature.” Nearly all medicines have a “Use by . . .” date.

In an emergency you may not have refrigeration. You may not be able to control humidity. You may need to consider taking “out of date” medicines!

Action Item: Talk with your doctor or pharmacist to find out what options you have for safely storing and using your essential medicines.

Organizing your pills and medicines at home.

In our house everything was going along fine until Joe experienced an unexpected and severe reaction to a drug. We’re still coping with the aftermath – and one thing that has meant is managing over a dozen new pills, shots and medicinal creams! The list changed weekly for a while and still changes.

Keeping track of when to take what has been a major effort!

In a disaster, without electricity or communications, or maybe not even being at home, managing medicines will be even tougher. You may not be able to do it safely without a couple of tools.

Tool #1: Your medicines list

You can do this on paper, but using the computer will be a lot more efficient. Keep an updated list of ALL your over-the counter and prescription medicines as well as medicines you doctor doesn’t even know about, like laxatives or pain relievers. Keep your list with you at all times! (Put one on the refrigerator, too, for the use of Emergency Medical Personnel. Read about our Vial of Life program.)

List name of the medicine (generic and/or brand name), dosage, and what it’s for. If you have space, describe the pill (“oval, white”) so that someone else could take over if necessary.

Tool #2: Your medicines calendar

When you have to take six or seven pills a day, it’s easy to skip one, particularly if they all come at different times. When you don’t feel well, managing is harder. As you age, it may become impossible.

Set up a calendar NOW so you can be sure you haven’t missed anything. Be disciplined about marking the calendar each time you take your medicine.

You can create your own layout based on your own logic, but here are the top few rows of the one we’ve developed for our household. As you can see, there is room for 3 medicines per day. You may need more. We put a O in the square where a pill is needed, and then an X inside the O to show it was taken. (If several people need calendars, I’d print them on different color paper.)

Pill Calendar

Packing pills and medicines for a trip or emergency evacuation.

Again, here we’re thinking about having to manage medicines when you are away from home. Here are three recommendations – and I make them from experience!

Pill box or pill container – Actually, I use a pillbox at home, all the time. My own box has roomy compartments, with ergonomic compartments – smooth, no corners — one for each day of the week. (It’s the blue one in the image at the top of the Advisory.)

I can see in a moment if I’m up to date on my pills.

As I mentioned, Joe takes a whole collection of pills these days. He needs a pill box with compartments for different times of day.

Here are two larger boxes from Amazon that I’d consider particularly for travel use. The first is water proof, and the second is smaller, discrete and flexible!

AUVON iMedassist Weekly AM/PM Pill Box, 2nd Gen Portable Travel Pill Organizer (7-Day / 4-Times-A-Day) with Moisture-Proof Design and Large Compartments to Hold Vitamins, Supplements and Medication
Lewis N. Clark AM/PM Folding Pill Organizer + Supplement Case for OTC Medicine, Prescription + Vitamins – 16 Slot Pouch, Black

Individual pill packetsI have used these small baggies for a number of items when I travel – for pills, for herbs, even for (small) jewelry. (Each is about 2 in. on a side.) I tuck the small baggies into a larger see-through container, then just pull one out when I want it.

Ezy Dose Pill Packs | Pill and Vitamin Organizer Pouches | 100 Count | Disposable

Original prescriptions – I don’t know exactly how the woman on the cruise ship managed, but I have had my own experience with being unable to get a prescription filled without at least a copy of the original, showing when it was issued and the doctor’s signature. If you deal with one medical service or one pharmacy, they probably have a computerized record of all your prescriptions. (But if that pharmacy is impacted by the disaster, will the records be available?)

Action Item. Scan and store prescriptions in the cloud. Take pictures of the actual bottles, too. That way you’ll have them in your phone and you can blow up the pictures to read the labels more easily.

This Advisory has a lot of ideas, and your own list of things to do may be even longer. But when it’s a question of life and death of a loved one, the effort is worth it. Please share any of your own good ideas for managing pills and prescriptions on a regular basis or during emergencies!

Your Emergency Plan Guide team