Monday, March 23, 2015

Severe Weather Preparedness

The first week of March was severe weather preparedness week. Preparing makes sense for older Americans. The likelihood that you and your family will recover from an emergency tomorrow often depends on the planning and preparation done today.  By evaluating your own personal needs and making an emergency plan that fits those needs, you and your loved ones can be better prepared.

There are commonsense measures older adults can take to start preparing for weather related emergencies and storm damage before they happen.   Consider the following steps in preparing for possible severe weather, power outages and potential disaster.

1. Get a Kit of Emergency Supplies

Consider two kits.  In one kit put everything you will need to stay where you are and make it on your own for 3-7 days. 
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The second kit should be a lightweight smaller version you can take with you if you have to leave your home.  Recommended supplies: 

-Water, one gallon of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation.

-Food. At least a 7 day supply of non-perishable food and a can opener if kit contains canned food.

-Battery powered radio and flashlight.  Extra batteries for both items.

-Whistle to signal for help.

-Moist towelettes , garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation.

-Pet food, extra water and supplies for your pet or service animal.

2. Medication and Medical Supplies

If you take medicine or use a medical treatment on a daily basis, be sure you have what you need on hand to make it on your own for at least a week.  If it is not possible to have a week-long supply of medicines and supplies, keep as much as possible on hand and talk to your pharmacist or doctor about what else you should do to prepare.

If you undergo routine treatments administered by a clinic or hospital or if you receive regular services such as home health care or transportation, talk to your service provider about their emergency plans.  Work with them to identify back up service providers within your area and the areas you might evacuate to.  If you use eyeglasses, hearing aids, and hearing aide batteries, wheelchair batteries and oxygen,  be sure you always have extras in your home.

3.  Collect Important Phone Numbers

-Plan how you will contact family and friends by calling, emailing or texting agreed upon friends or relatives if you are unable to contact each other directly.  Create a network of neighbors, relatives and friends to aid you in an emergency.  Discuss your needs and make sure everyone knows how to operate necessary medical equipment as needed.

-Maintain a list of phone numbers for your doctors, pharmacy, and the medical facilities you use.

-Make copies of medical prescriptions and doctors’ orders for assistive devices that you use.  List where you got the devices from and see if your local pharmacy is willing to provide a list of your prescription medicine and devices for you.

-If you own a medical alert tag or bracelet, wear it for your safety.

4. Plan for Power Outages Before They Happen

-Before disaster strikes, you may register with your power company.  They may alert you when power will be restored in an unplanned outage and before a planned outage.

-In the event that you cannot be without power, plan for how you will have power backup.   If possible, have backup battery, generator or alternative electrical resources.

-Backup chargers for a cell phone could include a hand-crank USB cell phone charger, a solar charger, or a battery pack. Some weather radios have a built in hand crank charger.

-People who are deaf or hard of hearing can get important information on a cell phone or pager. Sign up for emergency emails and text messages on your cell phone from your local government alert system.

5.  Evacuation

There may be conditions in which you will decide to get away, or there may be situations when you may be ordered to leave.  Plan how you will get away and anticipate where you will go.  Choose several destinations in different directions so you have options in an emergency.  Ask about evacuation plans if you live in an apartment complex or congregate housing.  If you typically rely on elevators, have a back-up plan in case they are not working.  Consider a supply of cash, particularly in small denominations, in case banks or ATM’s are temporarily unavailable during a disaster.

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