Emergency Preparedness Events Planned for September
Community Emergency Preparedness Day at the Farmer’s Market
Wednesday, September 12
3:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Find out how to get your family prepared for the emergencies that affect our valley! In addition to the weekly Farmer’s Market Activities, the Carnation-Duvall Citizen’s Corp will set up information booths, talks and demonstrations geared to promote personal and community preparedness.
Emergency Preparedness Fair
Saturday, September 22
11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Les Gove Park – 910 9th St. SE
A community oriented event designed to encourage disaster preparedness. Includes activities for children and adults. For more info, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (253) 876-1909.
Neighborhood Preparedness Event
Wednesday, September 26
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Residents of Renton who want to help prepare their neighborhood for emergencies can take this 2 hour training to learn how to facilitate a discussion with their own neighbors. After the training, the trained facilitator will meet with neighbors to map out the special needs within their own neighborhood as well as resources that may be accessed in an emergency. Pre-registration is required. Call 425-430-6700 or visit http://cybersignup.org.
For updates on local and national events, see the National Preparedness Month Event Calendar.
Emergency Preparedness for Older Adults
Joyce Remy, Caresource Healthcare Communications
The second anniversary of the devastating events of Hurricane Katrina is inspiring many Americans to think anew about the need to plan for emergencies. This includes preparation for natural disasters—earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, tsunami, extreme heat or cold, wildfire or volcanic events—as well as human error or deliberate acts, such as power failure, chemical or nuclear accidents, and events of terrorism and war.
If you are an older adult, or have older friends and loved ones, remember that older adults can be disproportionately affected by disasters. Physical impairments, medical and dietary needs, lack of transportation, and isolation can make it harder to be safe, and to recover from a hazardous situation. But advanced preparation makes it far more likely that you will be able to take appropriate action before...during...and after an emergency.
Taking practical steps to protect yourself or your loved one begins with getting the information you need. You should KNOW....
- the type of emergencies that are most likely to occur in your area
- immediate actions to take in case of a sudden emergency (such as an earthquake, explosion or landslide)
- your community's disaster preparedness plan
- the recommended evacuation route from your home
- the location of the nearest emergency shelter
- how to tune in NOAA Weather Radio
- escape routes out of your home in case of fire
- how to shut off the electricity, water and gas
- an out-of-area contact that you and your loved ones can reach if you are unable to make local calls
- your neighbors. (In times of disaster, people helping each other out is key. If you are disabled, make sure that someone nearby knows to check up on you—more than one person, if possible.)
Once you have the information you need, the next step is to PREPARE....
A personal support network. This can be an informal arrangement with family, neighbors or friends. If you have limited mobility, a sensory impairment or other disability, you may also be able to register with your local fire department or office of emergency services for special assistance. If you use home care, speak with your agency about emergency arrangements.
A shelter plan. If possible, make arrangements in advance to stay with friends or loved ones out of the area. Know where you should go if the order to evacuate is given. Make arrangements ahead of time for transportation to a Red Cross or other emergency shelter.
Emergency preparation supplies for surviving safely and comfortably at home, as well as an emergency evacuation kit with survival supplies in an easy-to-carry container, such as a backpack or duffel bag. It is recommended that you have....
- One gallon of water per person per day; enough for at least three days (or as long as is suggested in your area). Water should be stored in unbreakable containers that you are able to handle.
- Non-perishable, high-energy food supply, keeping in mind any dietary restrictions you have. Choose foods that are easy to store and carry.
- Basic utensils, including a manual can opener
- First aid and hygiene supplies (including toilet paper, moist wipes)
- Powerful flashlight and extra batteries
- Portable battery-powered radio or television and extra batteries
- Cell phone and extra battery
- Two-week supply (minimum) of your prescription drugs and other medicines
- Clothing, rain gear and sturdy shoes
- Blanket or sleeping bag
- Cash, credit cards or traveler's checks
- Phone numbers of relatives and friends, insurance agent, emergency numbers
A place for important papers, such as birth certificate, will, deeds, insurance policies and Medicare information. This can be a waterproof, sturdy container; or store them in your safe deposit box.
If you have pets, keep a supply of non-perishable food. Remember that if you evacuate to a shelter, normally only service animals are allowed to enter.
Then, if an emergency does occur, you will be ready to TAKE ACTION....
- Listen to your radio or TV for instructions about the prescribed steps for the emergency that is happening.
- If you are instructed to take shelter immediately, do so at once.
- If you are instructed to evacuate, your most comfortable choice may be with family or friends who live out of the danger area. Or, emergency public shelters can also provide food and a safe place to stay. Bring your disaster supply kit, and use the routes specified by local authorities.
- If instructed to do so, shut off electricity, gas and water.
Disaster Preparation Concerns for People with Disabilities
People over 65 and people with special medical needs or disabilities are especially vulnerable in the event of a disaster...so take steps now to put a plan in place. According to the Red Cross, if you have special medical needs, "You are in the best position to plan for your own safety, as you are best able to know your functional abilities and possible needs during and after an emergency or disaster situation." Here are some things to consider:
- Arrange for who will help you if you need to evacuate, and have a back-up plan in case that person can't reach you. Neighbors are often willing and eager to help those with special needs. But they can't help you without knowing who you are...and what they should do to assist you.
- Persons with medical needs such as dialysis, oxygen, or infusion pump can be at grave risk if their medical regimes are interrupted, and should have access to a back-up power source, such as a generator or battery, in the home or nearby.
- Know the location of your local emergency shelter that is equipped with emergency power generators, designated for people with special needs. If you are evacuated to a shelter, notify officials there right away about your disability and medical issues.
- Persons who are hard of hearing, or who have Alzheimer's or other cognitive impairment may miss emergency siren and radio/TV warnings. Arrange for other methods of notification. Keep in mind that the person may be hesitant to leave with a stranger, so explain your plan beforehand.
- If you normally use an electric wheelchair or scooter, be sure you have access to a manual model.
- If you are unable to get out of a building, let someone know where you are. Have a set of alternate emergency numbers with you, in case the 911 emergency number is overloaded.
- Have a supply on hand of your prescription medicines and any other supplies you regularly use, such as oxygen tanks, catheter, hearing aid batteries, spare glasses, etc.
- If you use home care or home health care services, make arrangements ahead of time for evacuation procedures. Discuss the provider's special provisions for emergencies, and go over your emergency plan.
- If you or a loved one lives in a nursing home, assisted living community or adult family home, learn about the evacuation and emergency policy. When selecting a facility, ask questions about their plan. Don't assume a plan is in place. Be sure the facility has your contact information.
While it is tempting to avoid "thinking about the unthinkable," taking the practical steps to preparedness can turn worry into action. You will be able to rest easier knowing that you have done everything you can to ensure the best outcome...no matter what emergency strikes.
For More Information
The emergency preparedness video Just In Case: Emergency Readiness for Older Adults and Caregivers, featuring members of the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services, can be viewed online on the Aging in Stride website. (At left, Advisory Council Chair Don Moreland and former chair Timmie Faghin inspect their emergency evacuation kits.)
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Ready Campaign has released three new demonstration videos designed to highlight the specific steps older Americans, individuals with disabilities and special needs, and pet owners should take to prepare for emergencies. The videos are available online at www.ready.gov.
The Red Cross website offers information on disaster preparedness, including "Preparing for Disaster for People with Disabilities and Other Special Needs." Go to www.redcross.org for news, safety tips and updates.
To find out how to prepare for specific emergencies, and what to do before, during and after a disaster, see the 204-page booklet from FEMA entitled "Are You Ready: an In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness." You can browse or print out the entire PDF document here. (This is a very large file, so it may take some time to download.) FEMA also offers information on Assisting People with Disabilities in a Disaster.
© 2007 Caresource Healthcare Communications