What to Do in an Emergency if You Need Dialysis


Being prepared with a few simple steps could save your life if you can't get dialysis treatment.

During a natural disaster or other emergency, getting kidney dialysis treatment may not be possible. Power could be out for several days or even longer, and roads may be closed so you can’t get to your dialysis center or a hospital.

If you have a home dialysis machine, you may be able to do manual exchanges until the power comes back on. You might also consider buying a small backup generator so you have continuous power.

If you receive kidney dialysis at a center but can’t get treatment, these steps can help safeguard your health:

  • Pack an emergency kit, and make sure to include:
    • Contact numbers for your doctor, your regular dialysis center, and another dialysis center near you.
    • A list of your medications and at least a 3-day supply of each.
  • Follow the 3-Day Emergency Diet [PDF – 188 KB]. This is extremely important. Following this diet could save your life.
  • If you need to go to a shelter, tell someone in charge about your medical needs.
  • Make sure your dialysis center has your current phone number and address in case they need to contact you.
  • Register with your water and power companies ahead of time for special priority in restoring your service.

If you need immediate assistance, call the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) help line at 1.855.NKF.CARES (1.855.653.2273) or the Kidney Community Emergency Response (KCER) hotline at 1.866.901.3773. For additional information and resources to help you prepare for an emergency, visit NKF at www.kidney.org/help or the KCER Program at www.kcercoalition.com/en/patients.