The kids are just about back in school, the heat of the early summer months is behind us (at least where I live), and my favorite MLB team is hanging in there. You know what that means? It is just about September!
That also means it is almost Emergency Preparedness Month. In my role as an elder care consultant, I help employees and families of elders “be prepared.” This is in many areas of their lives, and certainly in the area of emergency preparedness. Since this is almost September, with a national month recognizing the importance of planning for an emergency, it is a perfect time for all of us to review our emergency plans, check and update our supplies, and make sure our loved ones (families, elders, children and pets), are as well protected as possible.
A Very Thorough Emergency Preparedness Checklist. They just keep getting better. There are many websites on the internet to help us with the task of preparing for an emergency. Here are two: red cross, and fema.gov. The available information improves each year. These two sites are both full of the necessary information, lists in multiple languages, and ideas to help us prepare. Another, recently published in the “Power of 50” in the July/August 2012 AARP Bulletin, is another comprehensive list. I’ve included it here.
Elder Specific Needs. If preparing an emergency kit for an elder, consider how a disaster will affect their individual needs. Are they ambulatory? Could they walk out of their residence, or would they need assistance from a caregiver? Medications? Where are they and are they ready so that you can grab and go? Do you have an adequate supply at all times? A 14 day supply is optimal. Do you have a written list? Include dosage, treatment and allergy information. Any durable medical equipment needs? Wheelchair, walker, etc? Consider other personal needs such as eyeglasses, hearing aids and hearing aid batteries, wheelchair batteries, and oxygen. By all means, refer to a general list, and add the elder specific items you need.
Each year, as we head toward September, thoughts turn to the end of summer, the start of school and, in my line of work, Emergency Preparedness for seniors. Really, it does. Especially over the past decade, we have had several reminders of the importance of doing this. And each year during this past decade, the resources and ideas have only improved, so that with just a little research, one can find great ideas and checklists for the “must haves” in the event of an emergency or natural disaster. The last time I wrote about this subject was in September 2011, but this year I thought I would start in August, as it is not too early to start preparing and gathering the items listed below. Credit for this list must be given to the “Power of 50” in the July-August 2012 edition of the AARP Bulletin. This list comes right from there. It is truly the most comprehensive list I’ve seen, and I thought it important to share.
The list is made up of 50 items, divided into four categories.
First Aid Kit: this is the list as provided in the referenced article. The kit can be tailored to your, a family member’s, or your elder’s specific needs.
Prescription medications/equipment – 14 day supply
Sterile gloves – 2 pair
Sterile dressings, adhesive bandages
Multipurpose pocket knife
Eyewash for flushing contaminants
Sanitation items – toilet paper, plastic bags, hand sanitizer
Toothbrushes and toothpaste
Hearing aids with extra batteries
Spare glasses, contact lenses
Ready-to-Go Container: these are in case of evacuation, and should be taken with you, along with the first aid kit and essential papers.
One gallon of water per person, per day – 3 day supply*
Food: non-perishable, ready to eat items; pet food – 3 day supply*
Battery-powered or hand crank radio
Spare cellphone chargers
Extra set of car and house keys
Matches – in waterproof container
Lightweight, high insulation blanket
Extra clothing, hat, sturdy shoes
Stay-Home Stash: this list is used if you are stranded where you are.
One gallon of water per person, per day – 14 day supply*
Nonperishable, ready-to-eat food; per food – 14 day supply*
Manual Can Opener
Plates, utensils, napkins
Face masks for dust and mold
Small toolbox including wrench or pliers for utility shutoff
Plastic sheeting and duct tape for sealing windows, doors
Chlorine bleach with medicine dropper**
Extra blankets, sleeping bags
Rain ponchos, towels
Essential Papers: be sure to copy important documents and store with money in a sealed container. Consider electronic backup.
Emergency contact information: family, friends, doctors, insurers
ID cards: photo IDs, passports, health insurance, Social Security
Family records: birth, marriage, death certificates
Medical and immunization records, prescriptions
Wills, insurance policies, contracts, deeds/leases
Recent tax returns
Bank and credit card statements, retirement account records, investment records
Video and/or photos of your valuables and the interior and exterior of your home
Cash and change
*Water and non-perishable food should be replaced yearly.
**Instructions for treating non-bottled water for drinking: After filtering water through clean cloths, add 8 drops of regular household liquid bleach to 1 gallon of water; if water is cloudy or muddy, add 16 drops.
Kathleen S. Allen, LCSW, LICSW, C-ASWCM, is a Geriatric Care Manager and Elder Care Consultant in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. She works with seniors and their families, and with organizations and their employees or members to help guide them through the challenges of aging and caregiving.
Living in Northern Virginia, I and millions of others on the East Coast, experienced the 5.9 earthquake, and then four days later, Hurricane Irene. In both events, at least where I am, luck was on our side. While the earthquake shook things good and hard, and Hurricane Irene brought down limbs, trees, and knocked out power in my neighborhood, we know we got off easy. The power was out for only 13 hours and the sound of quiet was a lovely change. For others in neighboring states and further north, they were not so lucky, and many will be spending years recovering from the devastation of Irene.
Since then, I’ve been reviewing my own emergency plan, as well as those of my elderly and disabled clients. As a Geriatric Care Manager, I am responsible for assuring my client’s safety and preparedness for a natural disaster. And this is the time of year, as September is National Emergency Preparedness Month, that is a great time to sit down and review our emergency preparedness plans, make sure we are prepared, and look at previous events and learn any lessons these experiences offer.
There are ample resources provided by national organizations, and available on the internet to help us prepare. The following two websites offer tools to help prepare older adults and their families for a disaster:
From the American Red Cross: Emergency Preparedness for Seniors
From the Centers for Disease Control: Personal Preparedness – Emergency Preparedness for Older Adults
If you have not done any emergency planning, please do so now. If you already have a plan, please take time to review it now.