Seniors and Emergency Planning – Are you Prepared for a Disaster?

In my volunteer life, I am a member of the local ESS response team. I help with disaster response – I help evacuate and take care of people and animals who are affected by disasters like a forest fire, flood, earthquake, ice storm, chemical spill, explosion, or apartment fire.

In a small scale response, less than 100 people, services and emergency aid can often be quickly provided. In BC, the government provides for 3 days of emergency care in case of a disaster. Other geographic areas may provide only 24 hours of care, before insurance and regular social services step in.

The problems arise when there is a larger disaster. When thousands of people need to be evacuated or are stranded without electricity, heat or water, then government response can be slow. Seniors are at increased risk. If you have mobility challenges, you may have to wait for a vehicle or boat to help you evacuate. The mobility equipment you need might not function, such as elevators and stair lifts. Seniors can also be more susceptible to temperature extremes and stress. Cell and land-line phones may not work. But there are simple things that you can do to prepare.

It is up to each individual to make sure that you can survive on your own or with minimum services for a minimum of 3 days and up to a week. One way to do this is to prepare a “grab and go” kit. This kit should be stored by your door for easy access. Your kit should contain at least 3 days of medications, a spare pair of eyeglasses, copies of id and insurance policies, some food, some clothing and shoes, and water. A flashlight, radio, first aid kit, a wrench to shut of the gas, and a whistle are good additions to the kit. Be sure to have a kit for your pets as well. You should also have a place or out of town phone number prearranged so you can be reunited with your family. Don’t be caught!

 Emergency preparedness resources:

 Ready America:

 Center for Disease Control and Prevention:

 Disabilities Preparedness:

 Get Prepared Canada:

 Earthquake Preparedness:

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