4 Tips to Prepare for Winter Storm Jonas

Winter Storm Jonas may come with certain unexpected health hazards that pharmacists should be prepared to help patients weather.

Winter Storm Jonas may come with certain unexpected health hazards that pharmacists should be prepared to help patients weather.

With approaching snowstorms, pharmacists and patients alike should keep a few things in mind when planning for a potential blizzard.

Here are a few tips to prepare for major snowstorms:

1. Have an emergency medicine bag.

The typical home medicine cabinet contains an assortment of prescription medications, OTC pain relievers, multivitamins, and herbal remedies for each family member.

Families should think ahead of Winter Storm Jonas and plan out which medications each member of the household will need to get through at least a few days, paying special attention to drugs that treat chronic diseases, such as insulin and statins.

It is also advisable to keep certain OTC medications on hand, including acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and antihistamines.

2. Don’t shovel snow if you have heart problems.

Although shoveling is eventually necessary after a snowstorm like Winter Storm Jonas, the American Heart Association says the strain of the task combined with the cold weather can increase the risk for heart attack in vulnerable patients.

If patients are unsure about how their heart may deal with the strain of shoveling snow, they are better off hiring a local teenager, borrowing a neighbor’s snow blower, or waiting until the outside temperature warms up a bit.

3. Recognize that “alcohol blankets” do not exist.

Despite the theory’s popularity, alcohol does not warm the body. In fact, experts say, alcohol consumption may have the opposite effect.

Alcohol and certain medications can affect how the body regulates its temperature. Throwing back a few drinks and then heading outdoors to shovel snow after Winter Storm Jonas is not high on the list of great snow day ideas.

4. Keep tabs on the elderly.

During snowstorms, keep an eye out for older family members and neighbors.

Elderly patients can become hypothermic even when indoors because medications for certain illnesses such as diabetes, thyroid disorders, Parkinson’s disease, and arthritis can cause changes in body temperature. Certain OTC cold remedies can have this effect, as well.

Elderly patients are also more susceptible to falls, and icy storm conditions may exacerbate that risk.

Ahead of Winter Storm Jonas, pharmacists and families can remind older patients to make sure that they have all of their refills in the event they cannot leave their homes for more than a day.