Emergency Preparedness for Natural Disasters

Posted on February 1, 2022

Emergency preparedness is crucial for every citizen, but it is especially critical for the most vulnerable. If you're responsible for caring for a sick, elderly, or disabled person, the idea of a natural disaster becomes even more frightening. What would you do in the event of a power outage, flood, fire evacuation, or earthquake?

Create an emergency bag

it should contain essentials such as first aid equipment, cash, diapers, pet care items, a flash/storage drive of digital copies of vital documents, etc. and whatever may be needed in the event of an immediate evacuation. Label all medical devices and equipment, such as walkers or wheelchairs, with your elderly loved one’s name, address, and phone number.

Store supplies in a wheeled suitcase or duffel bag in case you need to evacuate that is in easy access of anyone who happens to be there in the event of an emergency. Make and place copies of important documents in a waterproof bag for safekeeping. Keep the bag in a designated place and remind your loved one to grab it before evacuating.

Be prepared for a power 

Brown out or blackout.

In case of extreme cold weather conditions, as we saw in Texas, or extreme heat, as we've seen in California, it's essential to know how to stay safe, fed, hydrated, and cool or keep warm without power.

Other things to consider for your emergency preparedness kit include:

  • Flashlight and battery-operated radio with spare batteries for each
  • Toilet paper, hygiene items, and plastic garbage bags
  • Cell phone charger
  • Personal hygiene items and an extra pair of clothes 
  • Can opener or multi-purpose tool
  • Sleeping bag or pillow and blanket
  • Cold-weather gear such as overcoat, mittens, boots if you live in an area with winter weather
  • Books, a deck of cards, or other games to help pass time
  • If you have pets or a service animal, don’t forget pet food, extra water, vaccination records, and a leash and/or pet carrier
  • At least a week's worth of medical supplies and equipment.  
  • Contact information for health care providers, emergency contacts and caregivers.
  • Medical record: A medication list with doses and dosing schedules and who prescribed them.
  • list of allergies and other health conditions.
  • Information about any medical devices you use. (such as glasses, hearing aids and batteries, or contacts)
  • At least three-day supply of nonperishable foods and water is needed to manage your condition.
  • Copies of caregiver recipient’s medical insurance card, power of attorney documents and photo ID.
  • Copies of recent lab report you might need.

Emergency Preparedness: Practice and review your emergency preparations

  • Twice a year, go over your written plan with everyone in your support network. If information changes, make sure everyone is up-to-date. 
  • Check out your emergency preparedness kit to ensure food and medications have not expired and refresh water supplies. Test and replace batteries as needed.
  • Conduct fire and evacuation drills with your elderly loved one—don't forget to practice an evacuation using the designated member of your support network if the primary caregiver isn't available. 
  • Make sure all the pieces of your plan work in a simulated disaster situation. Motivate your loved one to listen to the radio or TV for advice about whether to evacuate or remain in place.
  • Start by making a list of friends, neighbours, religious leaders and other close contacts who can watch over your loved one if you live at a distance and how they will keep in touch during an emergency.
  • Share emails, phone numbers, and other contact information with these contacts make a call list and post this information near your loved one's phone.
  •  It's advisable to have a list of people who could help. Team help is crucial in a local disaster when police may be busy with calls for assistance.
  • Figure out an evacuation route if your loved one needs to relocate before, during or after an emergency. Determine how they can leave home safely, where they should go, and the best route (including a transportation plan). 
  • Develop a communication plan before it's needed. Discuss with your loved one how they feel most comfortable letting family members know where and how they are — whether it's through a group text, email or a phone call. 
  • Also, be sure to find an out-of-town contact person if it becomes easier to make a long-distance call than a local one during extreme weather.

Coping with emergencies is difficult in the best of situations, especially so during the coronavirus pandemic. The challenges can be even more significant for people with chronic (long-term) health conditions—like brain injury, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease. But with proper planning, you can prepare for what you'll need to make things more manageable.