In case of emergency… Be ready

Are you hurricane ready?

Meredith Maxwell, M.D., M.H.A.

As we approach hurricane season, everyone should have a plan ready in the event a storm enters the Gulf of Mexico and threatens our area.

Father and son loading suitcases into car

Family Evacuation Plan

First, develop a game plan on what you and your family will do in the event of a hurricane. Write out every step and share with your family. Identify the responsibilities for each family member and plan to work together as a team.

Here are some steps to take in the event of a storm:

  • Understand community warning signals, and listen to local officials
  • Have an emergency kit ready
  • Learn the emergency plans at places where your family spends time such as work, school, and daycare centers
  • Know your evacuation route, emergency shelters, and checkpoints
  • If you have to evacuate, fuel up, check your car and carry extra keys
  • Have extra money saved to accommodate several days, weeks or months away from home. Keep in mind on extra expenses such as pets, food and gas.
  • Have 3 to 5 days of emergency supplies ready to travel
  • Bring cash in case of power outages or credit cards not working
  • Refill prescriptions for a full 7-day prescription
  • Give your children their identification information to carry with them
  • If you have to evacuate, turn the refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting, secure your home, turn off utilities at the source and lock up


Personal Inventory
Create a file containing personal information and keep it in a secure place, such as a safety deposit box. The file should include:

  • Driver’s license(s)
  • Vehicle registration and proof of insurance
  • Medical and vaccination records
  • Copies of prescription medicine labels
  • Birth and marriage certificates
  • Taxes
  • Wills
  • Records for pets
  • Pictures of your home, possessions and children
  • Copies of your children’s identification information

Family trip

Pet Preparedness
Pets should not be left behind during a storm, and you should take them with you during an evacuation. Do not wait until the last minute to evacuate with a pet because some hotels or rescue officials may not allow pets. When evacuating, make sure you have:

  • Food and water for at least three days
  • Bowls and can openers
  • Medications, records, and a pet first aid kit and book
  • Grooming items, litter box, newspapers and etc.
  • Leashes, harnesses, and carriers to transport pets
  • Pet bed and toys
  • Photos and a description of your pet
  • Copies of feeding schedule, medical conditions, behavioral problems, name and telephone in case you have to place your pet in foster care


How to pack a Basic Emergency Storm Kit

To assemble your kit, store items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supplies kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers such as plastic bins or a duffel bag.

A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:

  • Water – one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food – at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Extra batteries
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery

Download the Recommended Supplies List (PDF)

To learn more about emergency and disaster preparation, prevention, response, recovery, and mitigation, visit the Get A Game Plan website at



Meredith Maxwell, M.D., M.H.A., attended the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, where she completed her family medicine residency, before joining the Touro Infirmary Health System. She is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine Diplomate.

Emergency Department vs. Urgent Care: Do You Know Where to Go?

Emergency Room or Urgent Care: know where to go

Matthew Bernard, M.D.

Making choices can be tough—especially when you or someone in your family needs quick medical attention and you don’t have much time to decide where to go for help—either an urgent care center or the emergency room.

But knowing where to go for appropriate care ahead of time is important because studies show that half of all emergency room visits are not for true emergencies. And the less of an emergency you have, the longer you may have to wait to get the care you need. That’s because the doctors and nurses are busy treating other patients in life-or-death situations.

ER Doctor

What’s the difference between the ER and Urgent Care?

An emergency room and urgent care center offer some of the same types of services, such as X-rays and blood tests. But they differ in important ways.

For example, an emergency room is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and treats patients with life-threatening illnesses or injuries. An urgent care center has limited hours and is designed to treat minor medical problems.

What is a true emergency?

Although this is not a complete list, here are examples of true emergency situations:

  • Chest pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • Sudden, severe pain, such as a headache or stomachache
  • Head or back injuries
  • Bleeding or vomiting that won’t stop
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Poisoning
  • Major burns and cuts
  • Choking

What is an Urgent Care Need?

An urgent care center is the right place to go for medical problems that need immediate—but not emergency—attention. Examples of these types of medical situations include:

  • minor sprains
  • small cuts
  • sore throats
  • fevers
  • ear infections.

Even though an urgent care center can provide important medical treatment, if you are in doubt, go to the nearest emergency room or call 911.

The Touro Emergency Department is here to help 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  You’ll have access to specialists, state-of-the-art testing and a committed, caring staff.

Patients with less serious illnesses and injuries can be seen in the Fast Track area, shortening both wait and treatment times. Fast Track is not an urgent care center, but an “express lane” through the Emergency Department experience, open 7 days a week, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Bernard, MatthewDr. Matthew Bernard is a board certified Emergency Medicine physician and Director of the Touro Infirmary Emergency Department.  Dr. Bernard is a graduate of LSU Medical School in New Orleans, LA, and completed his Emergency Medicine Residents at Charity Hospital/University Hospital in New Orleans.