As Texas and Oklahoma recover from the dramatic rainfall last week brought, I began to research ways in which seniors could be better prepared for future disaster. The Red Cross had a simple three step approach to preparedness that I found to be helpful.
1. Get a Kit – Disasters can happen at any moment. By planning ahead you can avoid waiting in long lines for critical supplies, such as food, water and medicine and you will also have essential items if you need to evacuate.
- For your safety and comfort, have a disaster supplies kit packed and ready in one place before a disaster hits.
- Assemble enough supplies to last for at least three days.
- Store your supplies in one or more easy-to-carry containers, such as a backpack or duffel bag.
- You may want to consider storing supplies in a container that has wheels.
- Be sure your bag has an ID tag.
- Label any equipment, such as wheelchairs, canes or walkers, that you would need with your name, address and phone numbers.
- Keeping your kit up-to-date is also important. Review the contents at least every six months or as your needs change. Check expiration dates and shift your stored supplies into everyday use before they expire. Replace food, water and batteries, and refresh medications and other perishable items with “first in, first out” practices.
2. Make a Plan – The next time a disaster strikes, you may not have much time to act. Planning ahead reduces anxiety. Prepare now for a sudden emergency and remember to review your plan regularly.
Meet With Your Family and Friends
Explain your concerns to your family and others in your support network and work with them as a team to prepare. Arrange for someone to check on you at the time of a disaster. Be sure to include any caregivers in your meeting and planning efforts.
Assess yourself and your household. What personal abilities and limitations may affect your response to a disaster? Think about how you can resolve these or other questions and discuss them with your family and friends. Details are important to ensure your plan fits your needs. Then, practice the planned actions to make sure everything “works.”
Family Communications Plan
- Carry family contact information in your wallet.
- Choose an out-of-town contact person. After a disaster, it is often easier to make a long-distance call than a local call from a disaster area.
Community Disaster Plans
Ask about the emergency plans and procedures that exist in your community. Know about your community’s response and evacuation plans (e.g., hurricane, nuclear emergency, severe weather). If you do not own a vehicle or drive, find out in advance what your community’s plans are for evacuating those without private transportation or make arrangements with a neighbor who would drive you.
If you receive home care, speak with your case manager to see what their plan is in times of emergency and how they can assist with your plan.
3. Be Informed – What hazards threaten your community and neighborhood? Make a list of how they might affect you. Think about both natural (e.g., hurricanes, flooding, winter storms and earthquakes) and human-caused (e.g., hazardous materials and transportation accidents) and about your risk from those hazards.
Preparing for a hazard that is most likely to happen in your area will help you be prepared for any disaster. Remember, disasters can happen at any time.
The full Red Cross Disaster Planning document is available at: http://www.redcross.org/images/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m4640086_Disaster_Preparedness_for_Srs-English.revised_7-09.pdf.
While there are many resources out there, the key to disaster planning is to have a plan prior to the disaster. Waiting until the disaster is eminent is too late.
Our Guest Blogger this week is Amanda W. Scarbrough, Assistant Professor, Sam Houston State University.
Join us for a real-time discussion about ideas raised by this essay on Friday from 12:00 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. See Discussion and SL tabs above for details. Link to the virtual meeting room: http://tinyurl.com/cjfx9ag.