FALLS CHURCH, Va. - Weather events and natural disasters are, by nature, unpredictable. But you can predict what you should do before, during, and after an emergency. Being prepared for events like wildfires, floods, and hurricanes can help keep you and your family safe. A disaster may change access to your TRICARE benefit, prescriptions, and medical resources.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) encourages you to plan ahead for a disaster. You can do this by establishing a meeting place and evacuation route with your family. According to FEMA, the family meeting place should be familiar and easy to find. The FEMA website lists helpful tips on how to start an emergency plan. You can download and fill out emergency plans for families, pets, property, and more.

Make sure you and your family can access Tricare in an emergency by following these steps before a disaster strikes:

Sign up for disaster alerts. If emergency Tricare policies apply to your enrollment area, Tricare will let you know. First, you must sign up to get disaster alerts. You can receive disaster alerts by email. You can also view disaster alerts any time on the Tricare website.

Keep key medical information safe and easy to find. Before a disaster, safeguard critical documents. This includes medical records, prescription information, and your uniformed services ID card. It’s also a good idea to make a list of illnesses, allergies, and prescription bottles for all family members.

Get your prescriptions and medical devices ready. If you suspect you may need to evacuate, fill any prescription refills that are due before you leave. Think about medications you take that may need refrigeration. Or, you may have medical devices that you use, like breathing aids or eyeglasses.

Tricare will let you know of any emergency procedures in effect in a disaster alert. Keep in mind you may not be able to visit your regular doctor during a natural disaster. In a state of emergency, Tricare may authorize referral waivers in certain affected counties. This means you may not need a referral to get care during the referral waiver period. Be sure to keep your receipts and file any claims with Tricare as soon as possible.

As described in the Tricare Pharmacy Program Handbook, Tricare may authorize early refills for prescriptions in a disaster emergency in certain affected counties. This means you can refill your prescription before your current supply is finished during the early refill period. To get an emergency refill, take your prescription to any Tricare retail network pharmacy. You can search online for a network pharmacy. You can also call Express Scripts, Inc. at 1-877-363-1303 to help you find a pharmacy near you.

Remember that you and your family’s access to care may change during a weather-related emergency. Sign up for email updates from Tricare and make a disaster plan today. While you can’t prevent all disasters, you and your family can prepare for them. Visit https://tricare.mil/Resources/DisasterInfo to learn more.

Connecticut Media Group