Helping Senior Citizens Prepare for Disaster Before It Happens - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

3/13/06

Helping Senior Citizens Prepare for Disaster Before It Happens

Ninety-two year-old Dr. Carl T. Lambert is preparing a disaster relief kit with his care-giver Anjali Murphy. They're packing a small bag with water, food, prescriptions, important papers, contact information, batteries, and a weather radio. All of these things could be used within 24 hours of an emergency. A bigger case will be made to last a week.

"Seniors are especially vulnerable in times of natural disasters because they are limited in mobility and have difficulty getting around. They also have a limited support network. Family and friends are often far away. It's important to have a plan," says Deborah Dakin. Dakin is the Community Services Representative for Home Instead Senior Care. The service places care-givers like Anjali with seniors to help with daily activities. They're now urging all care-givers to prepare seniors for disasters. Dakin says, "With Hurricane Katrina, we're all becoming aware of the effects a natural disaster can have on all of us. During Hurricane Katrina, 2/3rd of all people effected were over the age of 60."

Living in Lubbock, Dr. Lambert realizes the biggest threat of natural disaster is severe weather. He says, "People would ask me why are you living in this death trap of a mobile home? It didn't bother me because I have a lived a good long life and have seen most of what I would like to see. I never worried about it and never thought about it until I got my bird Jake. Then I had someone to care about."

Dr. Lambert's plan now includes a mobile cage for his pet bird Jake. Anjali says, "It's a little more comforting to know we have a plan to find somewhere safe when the time does come."

The Home-Instead Senior Care office and the American Red Cross has put together a ten-step disaster plan for seniors. For more information about local caregivers and how they can help a senior or loved one, ( click here ) or call the Home Instead office at (806) 281-4663.

Ten Ways to Help Seniors Prepare for Disaster

1. Be informed. Contact the local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter to learn about the most likely natural disasters to strike your area.

2. Complete a personal assessment. A senior should determine what he or she can or can't do before, during and after a disaster. Make a list of those needs and resources that can meet them.

3. Make a plan. Schedule a family meeting to assess your needs in an emergency and develop a plan of action. Include key contacts like neighbors, friends, relatives and caregivers.

4. Know where to get information during an emergency, either through the local television, radio or NOAA weather radio. Have a battery operated radio ready.

5. Discuss multiple escape routes. Designate a place to meet other relatives or contacts outside the home. Practice the plan at least twice a year.

6. Know when to go or to stay and how to make the decision to stay or leave. When deciding to evacuate, older adults should go sooner rather than later. By waiting too long, they may be unable to leave if they require assistance from others.

7. Assemble a disaster supplies kit. Have an easy-to-carry kit with three days non-perishable food and water with an additional four days of food and water readily available. Have at least one gallon of water per person per day. Refresh and replace your supplies at least twice a year.

8. Remember medications and other essentials. Copies of prescriptions, extra eyeglasses and hearing-aid batteries, along with paper products such as toilet paper should be part of a disaster relief kit.

9. Make a list of contact telephone numbers. The list should include people on a senior's support network as well as doctors and other health care professionals. ( Click here )for a sample card.

10. Call a professional caregiver if you or your loved one needs extra help.

For more information about Home Instead Senior Care, ( click here ). For Red Cross preparedness information, ( click here ).

Making a Kit for an Emergency Situation
When preparing for a possible emergency situation, it's best to think first about the basics of survival: fresh water, food, clean air and warmth.
Lubbock Red Cross
Learn more about the South Plains Regional Chapter of the American Red Cross.

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