March 11, 2011
Whether it's hurricanes, tornados, wildfires or floods, helping older adults—among the most vulnerable populations—should be a priority.
That's why the Home Instead Senior Care® network, the international caregiving company with more than 900 locations in 15 countries, has issued a disaster safety preparation checklist to help prepare your senior parent for the possibility of natural disasters.
"Because some older adults have physical and other limitations, we know that a weather emergency can leave many families unprepared to help a senior react quickly to ensure their safety," said Jeff Huber, President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Home Instead Senior Care network.
"That's why the sooner the better for families to talk with their senior loved ones and begin preparing in advance for any kind of emergency that could threaten their health or safety. Consider this checklist as you help your older adult get ready:
- Tune in. Contact the local emergency management office to learn about the most likely natural disasters to strike your area. Stay abreast of what's going on through your local radio or television.
- Take stock. Decide what your senior can or can't do in the event of a natural disaster. Make a list of what would be needed if a disaster occurred. For example, if your loved one is wheelchair-bound, determine an evacuation strategy ahead of time. Prepare for whatever disaster could hit the area.
- To go or to stay? When deciding to evacuate, older adults should go sooner rather than later. By waiting too long, they may be unable to leave if they require assistance.
- Make a plan. Schedule a family meeting to develop a plan of action. Include in your plan key people—such as neighbors, friends, relatives and professional caregivers—who could help.
- More than one way out. Seniors should develop at least two escape routes: one to evacuate their home and one to evacuate their community. The local emergency management office can tell you escape routes out of the community.
- Meet up. Designate a place to meet relatives or key support network people outside the house, as well as a second location outside the neighborhood, such as a school or church. Practice the plan twice a year.
- Get up and "Go Kit." Have an easy-to-carry backpack including three days of non-perishable food and water with an additional four days of food and water readily accessible at home. Have at least one gallon of bottled water per person per day. Refresh and replace your supplies at least twice a year. And don't forget the blanket and paper products such as toilet paper.
- Pack extras and copies. Have at least a one-month supply of medication on hand at all times. Make ready other important documents in a waterproof protector including copies of prescriptions, car title registration and driver's license, insurance documents and bank account numbers, and spare checkbook. Also take extra eyeglasses and hearing-aid batteries. Label every piece of important equipment or personal item in case they are lost.
- Your contact list. Compile a contact list and include people on a senior's support network as well as doctors and other important health-care professionals.
- If you can't be there. If you're not living close by to help your loved one, enlist the help of family or friends, or contact a professional caregiving company.
FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)
For more information about advance disaster preparations, download the Federal Emergency Management Agency publication "Are You Ready" at www.fema.gov/areyouready or visit their "Be Ready" campaign at www.ready.gov.
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