Managing Your Illness During An Evacuation

Massive hurricanes and wild fires that rival the aggression of Dante's Inferno are popping up all over the place lately. If you are in danger zones, you understand the stress that "evacuation season" can put on the average person living in these moderate to high risk areas. If you are living with a chronic and/or debilitating illness, that stress can go from zero to one thousand real flippin' fast! 

This year may be my first year since living in Mobile, Alabama, that my family might be told to evacuate as the uncertanty of hurricane Irma looms over the Gulf coast. Uncertanty is just one more thing that adds to our stress. That stress is the birth place of this blog post. Traveling with our conditions isn't as straight forward as packing a bag and getting in the car. It takes some planning and manuevering to ensure that the trip goes as smoothly as possible. Each of us have requirements and precautions unique to our individual illnesses, but there are still some universal tips that you can use to make your evacuation journey a little easier if it comes to that.

Pre-packed emergency contact kit

In this kit, you should include:

  • A contact card, especially when traveling alone. This card should include your name, number, and address along with the contact info of any doctors you're seeing and the information of at least two emergency contacts.
  • A medical card that list your illness(s), symptoms, and medications along with the times you are scheduled to take those medications.
  • Your insurance card or information.

Manage your meds

  • Have enough medication to see you through At LEAST seven days of an evacuation.
  • Include any special equipment you might require such as blood pressure cuffs, glucometers, extra needles, etc.
  • If any of your medicines require refrigeration, put them in a cooler with ice and ice packs. A cooler should be aquired ahead of time. Do not wait until the last minute to wonder how to keep your medicines cold! Before putting them in the cooler with ice, put them in a ziploc bag to protect them from moisture.

Talk to your doctos and those living with your conditions

  • Ask your doctors if there is any other recommendations or precautions you need to take when you evacuate. This should be done long before the evacuation time arrises. 
  • Talk to those who live with your condition (I do this through Facebook support groups but you can do it in whichever way you are able) and ask them what they do to make evacuating easier. There are so many people in my online support groups that many of them are experienced at evacuating.

Certain conditions require special consideration

  • If you are on oxygen, make sure your travel canisters are full and talk to your doctor about getting an extra one during evacuation seasons.
  • If you are on dialysis or cancer treatment, you will need to talk to your social worker and doctors so you can make arrangements for those treatments to be given during an evacuation. Don't wait until the need to evacuate arrises before talking to your healthcare providers and coming up with a plan.
  • Make sure you have any canes or walkers with you as well

Consider your diet restrictions or special dietary needs

If you have special dietary restictions or need to eat regularly or before taking medications, be sure to have foods and snacks that you can travel with easily. Consider these snacks that are low in sugars or sugar free and can easily be puchased in low, reduced, or no sodium versions.

  • Canned or packaged tuna which comes in no salt added and reduced sodium versions (if you get canned tuna, get the kind with the pull top so it can be opened in the car or bring a traveling can opener)
  • Dehydrated fruits
  • Nuts (get unsalted if needed)
  • Water and flavor enhancers in you would prefer. It seems as though bottled water gets so warm so quickly so I prefer water enhancers that make water more tollerable to drink when it's warm
  • Crackers. Crackers usually come in a version that is reduced sodium or no salt added. These will give you something to eat with the tuna. Don't forget your mayo packets though! Dry tuna on dry crackers seems like cruel and unusual punishment to me!
  • Chips also come in salted and unsalted versions!
  • Cut up veggies. They can often be fine unrefridgerated and are, of course, super healthy! 
  • Peanut powder comes sugar free. Just add water and sweetner and you have peanut butter! You can whip it up before leaving or do it on the go. It will go nicely with those crackers!

Plan for comfort

  • Find an evacuation buddy. For some of you, that might mean a spouse but for others, it could be a friend or relative. Try to find someone who can do most, if not all of the driving for you while you control the snacks and entertainment for the duration you're on the road. This will keep you from becoming unneccessarily fatigued behind the wheel since you could be stuck in traffic for a long time.
  • Take a pillow or neck pillow with you in case you require a nap. If you have chronic pain, try to bring pillows to place behind your back for extra comfort. Consider sitting in the back seat so you can prop your feet up or lie down. Heating pads that don't need plugged in is also good to have with you.

Stay calm and destress

  • Bring something to occupy your mind. A busy mind won't have time to stress and worry. Whether you bring topics of conversation, coloring books, or reading material, keeping your mind busy will help you destress. My favortie are road trip games! Punch buggy blue, no tap backs!!
  • Meditate, pray, or read the Bible. All of these things have been proven to be great stress relievers. 
  • Try not to focus on your illness(s) or the home you're leaving behind. I know it is easier said then done, but it's the truth! If you focus on worst case scenarios, you will drive yourself insane so DON'T DO IT!


Our thoughts and prayers, at Sleep is my Happy Place, are with all of those affected by the recent wild fires, hurricanes, and flooding. We are saddened by the devastation that these events have caused and we ask for our readers to join us in prayer and lift up the people of these communities and thank God for all of the heros who have emerged in these times of crisis. Thank you to all of our readers for your support!





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