June Is National Safety Month. Is Your Loved One Ready for an Emergency?

The past year has reminded us over and over that natural disasters are especially hard on older adults. Whether it was Hurricane Harvey in Texas, Hurricane Irma in Florida, the huge wildfires all over the West, or the major blizzards in the Northeast, seniors suffered.

Everyone should be prepared for disasters. At our community, we have a plan for emergencies. Our staff know what to do in case we must evacuate, or shelter in place. If you are a resident or family member, rest assured that our staff are all trained to take the best possible care of your loved one, and to ensure the safety and security of residents and visitors in the event of a natural or manmade emergency situation.

As a service to the community and our families and friends, we’d like to share some information for seniors and people with disabilities and their families, no matter where they live:

Know what to expect

Few disasters give us much warning. A tornado, earthquake or flood can happen so quickly! So it’s important to consider the types of disasters that might occur in your area. Extreme heat events and disease epidemics strike seniors hardest. And anything that interrupts the services that protect a senior’s health can be a dangerous emergency—from a transit strike, to a power outage caused by a hurricanes, storms or technology failures.

A plan for sheltering at home

During an emergency, the public are sometimes advised to stay home. Advance planning can help keep your loved one safe during this time. Help your loved one create an emergency supply kit. Everyone’s kit should include items such as a flashlight, enough water and non-perishable food for at least three days, and a battery-operated radio. If your loved one uses medical equipment, have extra batteries or a home generator in the event of a power outage. Circumstances may prevent you from reaching your loved one, so enlist the help of emergency services personnel and, if possible, neighbors.

In case of evacuation

Sometimes people are advised to evacuate during an emergency. Your loved one should have an emergency evacuation backpack with a supply of medications, cellphone and charger, food and water. This is another time when neighbors can be of great help. And as part of your plan, talk to emergency services personnel in your loved one’s area. Register with the local fire department or office of emergency services if possible. Ask about the community’s emergency evacuation plan for people with disabilities, and learn which shelter can support your loved one’s medical needs (e.g., oxygen, motorized wheelchair).

If your loved one has dementia

Emergencies are especially hard for people with memory loss. You or someone else should check on your loved on if they shelter at home. If your loved one must evacuate, relocate them to the home of a family member or other familiar place if possible. Add things they will need to their emergency supply kit, such as incontinence undergarments and comfort objects. Be sure your loved one is wearing an identification bracelet or tag.

It’s tempting to avoid thinking about disasters, but turning fears into preparedness can help you rest easier and worry less about what might happen.

Source: IlluminAge AgeWise, © IlluminAge 2018

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