This week I would like to explore some of the special preparedness needs of the senior and elderly members of our families and communities. At first blush, you may be saying, “Yes, I understand that there are elderly people but how would their needs be any different than mine?”.
That is a great question and certainly one that I have asked myself. But consider this: the elderly are less mobile and far less likely to be able to evacuate on their own. Their eating habits may be more finicky and, for health reasons, restricted. The need for life-sustaining prescription medications and medical devices increases with age, and perhaps most difficult of all, the a sense of fear may result in profound depression as the familiar and comforting world around them has changed.
For those embarking upon the family preparedness lifestyle, it is important to consider the special needs of elderly adults and to help educate and assist them now, before they experience a true SHTF situation caused by natural, man made or economic disasters.
The checklist below is designed to be shared one on one with members of our older adult population (our moms and dads, grandparents, and neighbors). Review this list and use it as a guideline for initiating a discussion with these important members of our community.
1. Prepare Now for a Sudden Emergency
In the event of a disaster, local and rescue workers will do their best to arrive quickly but there may be physical or other impediments to a swift recovery effort. The key is to prepare now for a sudden emergency. Here are some things you can do:
- Assemble a disaster kit that includes food, water, first aid items, a flashlight, batteries and some cash.
- Arrange to have someone check on you on a periodic basis.
- Plan and practice the best escape routes from your home.
- Get to know the types of emergencies most likely to occur in your geographical area and find a safe place to shelter in your home if disaster strikes.
- Create window signs that you can use to signal the need for assistance.
- Post emergency phone numbers close to your phone. Do not rely on your memory. If you require special equipment (medical devices, oxygen, wheel chairs), keep a list and the location of operating instructions handy so that rescue workers can find them.
- Be prepared to defend yourself. Get some pepper spray or even some aerosol hair spray to squirt at an intruder who is trying to loot or otherwise steal your stuff.
2. Take Care of Your Medical Needs
- Assemble some spare medical supplies in an easy-to-carry, transportable container such as a backpack, shoulder bag, or duffle bag. Include a 7 to 14 days supply of prescription medicines and be sure to include written instructions regarding the dosage, and a list of allergies, if any.
- Pack up an extra pair of glasses (even if they are old) and hearing aid batteries
- Label your stuff. This includes your bags or other containers, walkers, canes, wheelchairs or anything else that you are likely to need.
- Make a copies of your medical insurance and Medicare cards and include them with your medical supplies along with a listing of your doctors. Also include a list of the style and serial number of medical devices such as pacemakers. Share copies of these documents with a trusted family member or friend.
3. Prepare for a Possible Evacuation
- Learn how to shut off water, gas and electricity.
- If you can, take your pets with you. But, also keep in mind that pets may not allowed in shelters. Ask! If not, you will need to allow for sufficient food and water for an extended period. Put a sign in the window indicating that there are pets inside.
- Leave a note taped to the refrigerator or elsewhere indicating when you left and where you are going.
4. Assess Your Physical Limitations and Coordinate a Plan for Assistance in Advance
- Contact a friendly neighbor in advance and make them aware that you have limitations that will preclude your evacuation in an emergency. Ask for their assistance in helping you or in contacting family members.
- In the event of an evacuation, wear warm clothing (even if it is hot outside) and sturdy shoes. You can always peel away the extra clothing later if you are too warm.
- Make sure that someone you know has an extra key to your home and knowledge of where you keep your emergency supplies.
- If you don’t already have one, get a cell phone. In most recent disasters, cell phone service was active long before land lines became functional.
What else can you do?
In addition to having a discussion with the older adults in you life, I would like to suggest that you help them gather supplies and educate them regarding the proper storage of extra food and water. You know what I am talking about: keep your supplies sealed and keep them cool.
You also might want to consider putting a Bug Out Bag together to give to them as gift, or to take them shopping to purchase the necessary supplies.
Perhaps most important of all, you can start to educate the elderly so that when and if the time comes, they are less fearful and less inclined to panic or worst case, shut down completely. I highly recommend that you download this free booklet, Red Cross Disaster Preparedness for Seniors By Seniors which was written a group of older adults who experienced a two-week power outage during a ice storm. It is excellent.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
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Bargain Bin: There are many basic supplies in a survival kit that are inexpensive. Below you will find a list of some of these items. Most are less than $20 and many are less than $10. Take a look – do you have these items set aside for an emergency?
Adventure Medical Kits Trauma Pack with QuikClot: This trauma kit is designed to stop bleeding and control serious trauma at the scene so more advanced care can be sought later.
QuikClot Sport Advanced Clotting Sponge: A must for any first aid or emergency kit, Quikclot Sport stops moderate to severe bleeding until further medical help is available.
The Emergency Bandage 6″ (Israeli Bandage): This 4″ wide, all-in-one device consolidates multiple first-aid devices such as a primary dressing, pressure applicator, secondary dressing, and a foolproof closure apparatus to secure the bandage in place.
Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets (Pack of 10): You will be surprised at how warm these will keep you. Be sure to test one out in advance so that you have the confidence to trust the blanket in an emergency.
Emergency Shelter Tent: The Emergency Tent is a lightweight and compact emergency shelter. It is wind and waterproof and easy to set up and is roomy enough for two people. Less than $10.
Emergency Sleeping Bag: Another low cost item designed to keep you warm in an emergency situation.
Camouflage Nylon Military Paracord 100 Feet: I need to write an article on the many uses of paracord. Pick your favorite color but be aware that different colors are priced differently. Me? I get the color that is the least expensive although I must admit the camouflage is my favorite.
Potable Aqua Water Treatment Tablets: Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets make questionable water bacteriologically suitable to drink. Easy to use and the water is ready to drink in 30 minutes. One 50 tablet bottle treats 25 quarts of water.
UCO Stormproof Matches, twin pack (50 matches): This is another one of those items most people forget about. Each match burns for about 15 seconds even if it is windy, rainy, or cold.
Streamlight 73001 Nano Light Miniature Keychain LED Flashlight: This small and super-bright light, features a high-intensity, 100,000-hour LED that will last up to eight hours on four alkaline button cell batteries which are included.
Shop the Emergency Essentials Monthly Specials: The monthly specials at Emergency Essentials feature discounts of up to 35% off sometimes a bit more.
I have wanted to let you know about their Do it Yourself SuperPail Combo all month but it has been on backorder. The combo kit now appears to be in stock and is great deal at $69.99. It includes 8 x 6-Gallon Buckets with Lids, 8 x Metallized Storage Bags and a 10-Pack of Large Oxygen Absorbers.
Don’t forget that you do not need fancy equipment to seal the metalized bag. A cheap hair iron will do the job.
Conair Flat Iron 2″ Ceramic Straightener: I use a hair iron to seal my Mylar bags. Forget about a hose and a vacuum sealer. A $20 hair iron works great – just be sure to get one with 2” plates.
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