Haunting images poured out of hurricane-ravaged Texas this weekend: Rescuers led nursing home residents out of waist-high water, and a CNN reporter lifted a frail, elderly man from chest-deep water in his home onto a boat.
A natural disaster or a haz-mat accident can leave all of us vulnerable, but none more so than older adults, who might live alone and have frailties. However, preparation can ease a harrowing situation – and maybe save a life.
- Identify shelters ahead of time when possible. Let family members know where they might find you.
- Plan escape routes – from your community and from the homes of you and your loved ones. Review these plans with your loved ones, particularly older adults.
- Plan on how the family will communicate if separated. Identify an out-of-state or out-of-area point of contact for family members to call, text or e-mail. Keep cell phones, tablets or laptops fully charged.
- Create emergency contact and health cards for each family member. Make sure they take the cards with them in the event of evacuation. List health conditions, allergies, medications, immunizations, blood type, use of devices such as walkers or hearing aids, and any communication difficulties. The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services has an extensive manual on disaster preparedness for people with chronic disease. Download it here.
Create and maintain an emergency kit
- Store three days of non-perishable food and water. Allot one gallon of water per person per day.
- Include a first-aid kit, flashlight, battery-powered radio or TV, and extra batteries.
- Blankets and extra clothing are only a few of the other things that you should include. The American Red Cross has a comprehensive list here. Locally, Metro Louisville has an entire web page dedicated to disaster preparedness, including how to build a kit.
We can’t control Mother Nature, but we can control how we respond. Be prepared, and check on neighbors and loved ones who might need a little help.