As we’ve seen in Houston this past weekend, Mother Nature is pretty unpredictable, and natural disasters can leave you little time for anything but reacting. That’s why it’s so important to put a plan in place now … before it’s too late!
Here are some important steps to prepare for a natural disaster:
Create a personal support network of at least three people to help you prepare for and respond to an emergency. These people will notify of impending disasters and check in on you in the case of an emergency. Keep their numbers by the phone and update your list on a regular basis (as availability changes).
- Give the members of your network copies of keys to your home, car, etc., health information and other emergency-related documents.
- Let them know of your specific needs during an emergency—from portable oxygen tanks to pets you need to evacuate (it’s also important to put pet alert stickers or signs on every door and window to alert emergency workers of pets in your home).
- Make sure that these people are familiar with any equipment you use, such as wheelchairs or nebulizers, i.e., where it is and how to use it.
- Decide how you’ll contact one another, as you may not be able to use your phones. Your friends or neighbors could knock loudly on your door, use a whistle, put a sign in your window or use some other mutually agreed-upon solution.
- Practice disaster and evacuation plans before an actual emergency.Keep your network informed of your travel dates.
Prepare an emergency supplies kit with food, water and medicine plus other important items to last you for three days. Keep this kit easily accessible and inform your personal support network of its location. Learn the specific items to include in this kit.
In advance, learn how local authorities will inform you of a disaster and keep you updated throughout the crisis. Don’t be caught unaware.
Plan the quickest, easiest and safest evacuation route from both your home and your neighborhood, keeping accessibility to any equipment that you use, such as a wheelchair or a walker, in mind. Find out if your community has the means to transport you to safety if you are unable to accomplish this on your own. Other options for emergency assistance are groups like a CERT (Community Emergence Response Team), neighborhood watch, community block associations or faith-based organizations. Connect with them in advance and let them know of your specific needs.=’
If you or a loved one lives in a senior living community, review the senior living community’s disaster plan. This plan should include how residents will be evacuated, how equipment needs will be handled, adequate supplies of drinking water and fuel for generators, etc. Most of all, staff should be trained on this plan and have practiced it with residents so everyone knows the drill (literally)!
Share how you’ve prepared for an emergency.