Emergency Preparedness and Seniors

Considering Harvey, Irma, Jose and other hurricanes are about to batter the US mainland, I am putting together an emergency preparedness plan especially for my community.

It will feature all of the standard information you will find, but will also cater specifically to seniors and caregivers, who have to answer specific questions that the rest of the population normally doesn’t, such as…

1) How do you evacuate someone with mobility issues?
2) If you are a resident of a nursing home/assisted living facility, how does this change your level of emergency preparedness?



Emergency Preparedness and Response

When it comes to the family, you need to work out in advance…

1) How do you contact each other?
2) Setting Up The Family Disaster Plan
3) Having proper supplies

Keeping In Touch

First of all, in this day and age, most people should have access to everyone’s cell phone number. But, as those in Florida and Houston unfortunately found out, a hurricane can knock out the service of the devices and also the ability to recharge those devices.

As for the first, there isn’t much you can do about it. Service will be a problem, as residents in Houston found out. And while there have been calls for backups to the cell towers in the event of a disaster, there isn’t much that you can do on a personal level.

Read Fortune: Hurricane Harvey Knocked Out Cell Service. Now Calls for Backup Wireless Power Are RisingĀ 

However, when it comes to recharging your phone and staying in touch, there are solutions you can personally utilize. One of them is a hand cranked cell phone charger from the Red Cross Store. The purpose is to allow you to listen to weather reports and charge your phone without having electricity available.

This will enable you to communicate once the cell phone service is restored, even if electricity isn’t up and running yet.

Setting Up The Family Disaster Plan

Here, you are looking to attempt to plan for all contingencies. Currently as I write this in September 2017 the US news is filled with stories about hurricanes, but what about other emergencies where there is far less warning, such as…

1) Tornadoes
2) Earthquakes
3) Terrorist attack

For these instances, you should be ready in an instant with the following…

a) Central meeting spot – everyone should know where to go in an emergency. This should be the safest spot in the home. But different emergencies require different types of meeting spots. As the CDC Emergency Preparedness website states…

“Different disasters may require you to go to different places. Make sure you choose a meeting place in your neighborhood, a meeting place just outside your neighborhood, and a meeting place out of town.”

b) The best escape routes – this is not only out of your home but also out of town.

c) A “bug out” bag – designed to grab and go and carrying all the basics you need, things such as…

1 Drawstring backpack
1 Emergency poncho
1 Emergency blanket
2 Hand warmers
1 Emergency drinking water pouch
1 Light stick
1 Whistle with neck cord
1 N95 breathing mask
1 Pair exam-quality vinyl gloves
1 Hand sanitizer pack, 0.9g
2 Germicidal wipes
1 Mini first aid kit with:
5 Adhesive plastic bandages, 3/4″ x 3″
3 Adhesive fabric bandages, 3/4″ x 3″
5 Junior adhesive plastic bandages, 3/8″ x 1-1/2″
1 Fingertip fabric bandage
1 Knuckle fabric bandage
2 Antiseptic cleansing wipes (sting free)
1 Triple antibiotic ointment packet, 0.5g
1 Customize your kit brochure
1 How-to-use guide

Note: the Red Cross item pictured (Deluxe Personal Safety Emergency Pack with Bag) is the most basic item. It is missing one obvious thing…FOOD.

They have other emergency back packs, under their “72-Hour Emergency Kit” category that do have food but are also more expensive, up to the $250 range.

So overall these are some basics pointers to handle an emergency like the country is currently facing, but in this article I wanted to talk about the most vulnerable among us, and how to protect seniors during these emergencies….

Dealing With Immobile Seniors In An Emergency

Your local Office of the Aging may have a solution for this. Here, in Suffolk County, NY, there is a program known as the JEEP program.

JEEP stands for Joint Emergency Evacuation Program, and it is designed to create a database of at-risk seniors who will need to be evacuated in an emergency.

The plan is for these seniors to be evacuated BEFORE the storm hits, this way they are already in the shelter so that first responders do not have to go into high risk areas to evacuate people AFTER an emergency who could have been evacuated BEFORE the emergency.

These particular senior services, which could be accessed through your local Office of the Aging or your local fire department, may have another name in your area, but the idea is to get you know that similar senior services must exist where you live. So either reach out to your local Office of the Aging or to a local politician to see if something like that exists in your area.

Dealing With Assisted Living / Nursing Homes

It is actually a requirement for a nursing home / ALF that is Medicare/Medicaid accredited to have emergency plans in place. I found a checklist online for the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services that you can run by your nursing home administrator to make sure they have such a plan in place.

Download the checklist here.

Overall, I hope these tips help and you and yours to stay safe while they are in harm’s way.

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