Caregivers Must Prepare for Emergencies
If you’re among America’s 54 million caregivers, knowing how to evacuate a loved one or how a loved one can take shelter during an emergency may not be as easy as just stepping out a door, or crawling out a window, especially if your loved one has mobility challenges and physical issues.
Not only do you have to consider how you yourself will get out of the house during an emergency, but how will your loved one also be able to escape? These are just a few of the questions that a caregiver must consider in order to arrive at a much-needed safety plan for their loved one.
Contact Your Local Red Cross – When devising your in-home, emergency preparedness plan, a good resource to contact is your local chapter of the Red Cross. They can tell you what kind of natural disasters occur in your area, how to prepare for each, and how you will be warned of an emergency.
Also, many communities extend special assistance to those who have mobility problems by registering these people with a local fire department or emergency management office. Professional help will then be administered quickly and with priority in an emergency to people with physical limitations and mobility challenges.
If you are a caregiver who still must work outside the home, ask your supervisor about any emergency plans that may be in effect at your workplace. For example, some places will not allow employees to leave for home until an “all clear” has been given by local authorities, so caregivers need to take a policy like this into consideration when creating an at-home safety plan for a loved one.
If you currently utilize a personal care attendant from an agency, find out whether the agency has special provisions during an emergency; will they continue to provide care and services at another location if your loved one needs to be evacuated from their current environment? It’s important to determine what will be needed for each type of emergency.
Rehearse Your Plan – Once a safety plan has been created, it is wise to rehearse it, making sure that there are no other problems that arise during an emergency.
Let Others Know the Plan – It’s also a good idea to discuss a finalized evacuation plan with other family members who may not live with you, as well as with neighbors, friends, and any other personal care attendants that may be a part of the in-home caregiving team. This way, people other than the caregiver will know where to locate a loved one in a timely manner and assist with anything they may need at that moment, should their caregiver not be able to do so.
4 Steps for Seniors’ Natural
1. Build an emergency kit
It’s critical that your older adult has the food, water, medicine, and supplies they’ll need to survive an extended power or water outage.
Prepare a week’s worth of basics like:
- Non-refrigerated or non-perishable foods they can eat. Freeze-dried ready to eat emergency food supplies are a great idea because they take up very little space and have a 25 year shelf life (this means you can purchase them once and not worry about needing to replenish due to spoilage).
Recommended: Wise Prepper Pack
- Clean drinking water — one gallon per person per day
- All necessary medications and medication supplies like syringes for insulin
- Garbage bags and plastic ties for temporary toileting
- Moist towelettes for personal hygiene
- Flashlights and batteries
- Emergency Radio for news and alerts
I really like this Self Powered Flashlight, Emergency Radio & Portable Phone Charger can be a lifesaver during emergencies when there is no power; its an eco-friendly, lightweight, low-maintenance and dependable multifunction device. This is a critical addition to any emergency kit.
It comes with a easy-to-tune-in radio FM/AM, Blink / Siren Mode, and it even has a headset jack.
For about 3 minutes of hand crank you’ll get 15 minutes of flashlight, 5-10 minutes of radio, 3 minutes of phone usage, or 3 minutes of siren/blink… priceless in an emergency. It can also be charged with solar exposure and USB. Read reviews of this emergency radio.
- Wrench or pliers to turn off gas or water
Recommended: Aid & Prep 250 Piece First Aid Kit
(to read my review of this 250 Piece Kit – see Easy First Aid Kit for Home and Car )
This terrific Four Function Whistle is also a thermometer, magnifier, and compass!
Keep copies of important information like:
- A list of prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and orders for medical equipment – including dosage, treatment, and allergy information
- Medical insurance and Medicare / Medicaid cards
- Contact information for doctors and people in their support network
Add special supplies like:
- Extra batteries for devices like hearing aids or wheelchairs
- An extra pair of eyeglasses – use an old pair
- Plan ahead for refrigerated medications like insulin for diabetes – talk with the pharmacist or doctor
- Extra food and water for pets or service animals
2. Form a support network
You might not always be nearby to help your older adult when disaster strikes. So, it’s important to create a support network of trusted neighbors, relatives, and friends who can step in during an emergency.
Familiarize them with your older adult’s needs. Make sure everyone knows what medications, supplies, and medical devices are important, where they’re kept, and how to use them. Also, give them a copy of the emergency plan and access to your senior’s residence.
3. Create an emergency plan
Depending on the type of natural disaster, it could be safer to either evacuate or shelter in place.
Nature is unpredictable, so prepare one plan for sheltering in place and another for how to evacuate.
A written plan is best for handing out and reviewing with everyone in your senior’s support network. That way everyone will be clear on what to do and where to go. And if you’re separated, you’ll know where to find your older adult.
If your senior needs routine treatments in a clinic or hospital or if they have regular services like home health care, talk to the service provider about what to do and where to go for back-up care during an emergency. Include that information in the emergency plan.
4. Make sure money is accessible and secure
Older adults who depend on Social Security or other federal benefits can run into trouble if they rely on mailed payments. During emergencies or evacuations, mail services can be interrupted for days or weeks. Even worse, checks could get stolen!
To prevent financial problems, help your senior switch to electronic payments of federal benefits.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury recommends two safer ways to get federal benefits:
- For people with bank accounts, direct deposit to a checking or savings account is the best option. Sign up by calling (800) 333-1795 or at www.GoDirect.org.
- For people without a bank account, use the Direct Express® prepaid debit card. Sign up by calling toll-free at (877) 212-9991 or at www.USDirectExpress.com.
Creating an emergency kit, plan, and support network sounds like a lot of work, but it can mean the difference between your senior developing a serious health issue or making it through the disaster unharmed.
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