MANATEE COUNTY-  Planning makes all the difference in when it comes to surviving a storm. And cancer patients and others dealing with serious medical issues are urged to take extra precautions when planning.  

Jerome Tomasso is living with ALS and he says proper planning can be the difference between life and death during hurricane season.

“It could come in in as short a period as 48 hours,” Jerome Tomasso said. “Or it could be a week in advance and there is no way of telling where the storm is going to go, so you have to be prepared. We have supplies in the house, we have batteries, we have everything prepared.

Florida Cancer Specialists Oncologist Dr. Miguel Pelayo says patients need to make sure they are well stocked on medication.

“A lot of our medications in Oncology are actually dosed in 30 days,” Dr. Pelayo said. “So that could be a little difficult if somebody’s refill is coming up and there is a hurricane coming down the Caribbean.”

Patients also need to think about where they are riding out the storm, and to know if they need to sign up for special needs shelters.

“Especially in a medical sense,” Dr. Pelayo said. “Knowing what capabilities the shelter has, where it’s at and as far as how busy it will be, that’s very helpful again for developing a plan once a storm is on the horizon.”

Jerome Tomasso says they have contingency plans on where to go if the power goes out.

“A lot of the equipment we use with this disease requires AC power,” Tomasso said. “So our plan is to go to a facility that has AC power will be available to be used throughout the duration of the storm.”

Dr. Pelayo says they are starting to talk to patients about planning now. But when a storm is imminent they have extra people on staff to handle concerns.

“We have a team of nurses and employees,” Dr. Pelayo said. “that essentially reach out to patients through phone call and make sure there needs are being met whatever way we can do that.”

If you are going to need to enter a special needs shelter, make sure you sign up now. The system can be overloaded if you start signing up days or hours before a storm hits.