Natural and man-made disasters make the news almost every day. The news talks about the damage, destruction, the survivors and those not so lucky. To prepare for a natural disaster is very difficult because you never know exactly what will happen. When you have elderly parents in your home, near by, in assisted living facility or across the country you need to help them plan and be ready.
- Evaluate common natural disasters in your parents area. Some areas flood, some are prone to hurricanes and others tornadoes. If they are in the path of all three suggest moving! Once you have a handle on what could happen look for local agencies that give help and information in a time of crisis. Make an easy to find note with the radio station and local disaster relief shelter and keep the info up to date.
- Look and plan for the living situation your parent is in. If they are living alone, what is the plan to evacuate? If they are in assisted living what assistance is given if staff is unable to come to work? Do not neglect planning for a parent who lives with you, make sure they know where you would be evacuated to if they are not at home at the time of disaster.
- In the case of a flood or hurricane, discuss with your parents what procedures should be to secure their home and valuables. Water damage is the most common issue so it might be wise to store things in plastic totes. Try and pre-think about what is most important and make sure it is not in the lowest parts of the house. Smart storage year round will avoid a panic in the last moment trying to move things to higher ground.
- Create a phone tree for disasters and a time frame for that phone tree to activate. Make sure your parent has your phone number on a physical card in their wallet as cell phones might not work or run out of power and you don’t want bad memory preventing them from calling to say they are okay. Try and get the phone numbers of their neighbors to check in if your parent does not answer, or, if they evacuate to check on the property. It might be hard to talk to a stranger but it will be worth it to have the safety net.
- What to bring, what to leave, what is important. This question can’t be answered in a short article, there are books dedicated to the subject. The short version is your parent needs their medication, copies of important papers, and, some cash. After those items add what they have time, space and ability to take. If your parent has medical issues that use electrics such as wheelchair or c-pap, have backup plans since electric might not be available post disaster.
- Put together a Hurricane preparedness disaster supply kit for your parents. This kit should include –
- 3 days supply of non-perishable food
- Flash light and extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust mask to help filter contaminated air
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Manual can opener for food
- Cell phone with chargers
- Inverter or solar charger
The bottom line is that disasters are hard to plan for but try and make a plan that is simple and versatile and easy to follow. If your parent has memory issues go over the plan and make visible reminders. Hurricanes and floods usually have advance warning, make sure your parent heeds the warnings so they can be one of the positive stories on the news.Read more