June 18, 2018
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Seniors should make disaster preparedness kits

By Carol Higgins Taylor

We have had some very heavy winds of late that have resulted in power outages — not to mention the blowing snow that came with the first storm of the season.
While the mere thought of the beginning of winter makes me shudder, what’s worse is not being prepared for storms and then sitting in the dark, regretting not having assembled a disaster preparedness kit.
I admit, it can be overwhelming when you start compiling items for the kit. But once you begin, it all makes sense.
The first step is to get a canvas bag or large backpack that can be grabbed quickly if you have to evacuate.
This bag should contain a list of medications — including a three-day supply, an extra pair of eyeglasses if possible and the glasses prescription, a list of allergies, medical conditions, emergency contact information, a first aid kit, a copy of identification such as a license, sample sizes of personal care items and an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Also, pack some cash, nutritious nonperishable foods, a manual can opener, a battery-operated radio, flashlights, extra batteries and an extra set of keys.
You also may need extra batteries for hearing aids and wheelchair, oxygen and a list of the model and serial numbers of any medical devices such as pacemakers.
Make sure your phone will work if the power is off.
If you have a cordless phone that has a power pack, unplug it from the outlet. If you do not get a dial tone, think about getting an old-fashioned phone that just plugs into the phone jack as a back-up, or invest in a cell phone. Just make sure to keep the battery charged.
If you have a pet, keep plenty of food and treats in the kit, and make emergency arrangements in advance in case your furry loved one is unable to accompany you to a shelter.
Check with your veterinarian’s office or local animal shelter to see if temporary accommodations are available.
Some other helpful tips:

  • Arrange to have someone check on you.
  • Plan escape routes from different areas of your home and practice them often, especially with grandchildren.
  • Devise a way to signal for help if needed, and alert your neighbors to your plan.
  • Have a contact out of the area or out of state. Sometimes it is easier to call away than locally.
  • Plan ahead for disasters with any home health agencies that visit you regularly.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are my phone numbers up to date?
  • Have I talked to my neighbors and family about what might happen in a blizzard, fire, flood or other event?
  • How would I find out about a disaster if I lost power?
  • How would I contact family members if the phone lines were down?
  • What would I need if I couldn’t get out for a few days?
  • Is there a family member who requires special accommodations?
  • What are the most important things I need to have with me if I am forced to evacuate?

While it is next to impossible to be prepared for every situation, with a little forethought and effort you can be ready for most emergencies.
If you have an appointment at EAAA on a day with bad weather, call 941-2865 or 800-432-7812. A storm closing message will be on the answering machine by 6 a.m. We want all of our staff and clients to be safe so if it is snowing, call before coming in to be sure we are open.

Carol Higgins Taylor is director of communications at Eastern Area Agency on Aging. E-mail Higgins Taylor at chtaylor@eaaa.org. For information on EAAA, call 941-2865 toll-free 800-432-7812, e-mail info@eaaa.org or log on EAAA.org. TTY 992-0150.

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