By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest
Emergency managers often urge the public to stay prepared for disaster. It is, perhaps, one of the most important things a community can do to strengthen its resiliency in a major crisis. This advice is particularly relevant to the elderly who might need assistance in a crisis.
However, there are five easy steps the elderly can take to help themselves, whether they are in a major crisis in their community or need assistance in an emergency at home.
1. Make a List of Medications
It is important for people taking multiple prescription drugs to make a list of all their medications and keep it with them at all times. The Institute for Safe Medication Practices offers a template that can help in composing a medication list.
In addition to listing all medications, the list should include the dosages and how often they should be taken. A copy of the medication list should be posted on the refrigerator, so emergency personnel can easily find it when they enter a home.
The list should also include a senior citizen’s date of birth, known allergies and physicians’ information.
2. Have a List of Emergency Telephone Numbers
An emergency can be fast-paced and stressful, making it difficult for the elderly to quickly remember phone numbers. Cell phones keep track of important numbers, but cell phones cannot be relied on in an emergency. It’s important to prepare a printed list of emergency numbers for posting on the refrigerator and placing near the phone for an emergency.
3. Have a Supply of Bottled Water on Hand
In the midst of a major crisis, families need access to a supply of water in their home. A potable water supply is perhaps even more important for elderly residents because they might have trouble relocating during a disaster.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends having on hand at least one gallon of water per person in the home for three days. Water containers should be sealed to keep the contents fresh for long periods of time. For the elderly, it’s wise to have at least two weeks’ worth of water at home in case of an emergency.
The CDC also recommends having a larger supply of water when there are pets in the home or for residents who live in hot climates.
4. Maintain a Supply of Non-Perishable Food
Along with water, a supply of nonperishable food is vital in an emergency. Plan on eating at least one meal a day. Having a supply of nonperishable food on hand is always important for the elderly in the event they cannot leave home.
5. Stock Up on Blankets
Another easy way for the elderly to be prepared is to have a good supply of blankets for power outages. A supply of blankets can be of tremendous use in a major crisis particularly during the winter months.
Ultimately, it is important for all families to prepare for a disaster. But preparation is particularly important for the elderly, since it could make the difference between life and death to them.