How prepared are you?

September is here and has most certainly come in with a vengeance--Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Jose on its way, wildfires in the west. With any of these types of storms or natural disasters, it usually comes with loss of power, flooding, shortages of gas, water and food, as well as destruction/damage of homes. And because the winter months are fast approaching, proper preparation would be advice well heeded. If anything, the ferocious storms we have been experiencing as of late, should prove that thinking ahead can make the difference between remaining safe or being in harm's way.

September is Storm Preparedness Month so what better time to make this a priority? What happens if you have a loved one who is elderly or is non-ambulatory due to a disability, recent surgery or injury? If their mobility is compromised in any way, any type of quick response or evacuation can be quite difficult.

Here are some safety tips that are pertinent for not only seniors and caregivers, but for those who suffer from any type of mobility issues.

  1. Make a list of the items that would be critical for life sustaining needs. This may include oxygen, medications or any other key medical items. Making arrangements with your family for an evacuation plan, particularly if you or your loved one has a mobility problem, should not to be underestimated.
  2. For fast evacuation, be sure there is a quick escape route, especially if there is flooding or the home is sustaining wind, ice or snow damage. For instance, a portable wheelchair ramp can assist in a quick exit for those who are wheelchair bound.
  3. In the event of a bad winter storm where widespread power outages occur, leaving no heat or hot water in the home, staying warm would obviously be a priority; it can be especially important for those who are confined to a wheelchair and are unable to move around to create warm energy. Have some extra blankets handy for these types of emergencies.
  4. Keep battery operated flashlights in the event the power goes out. Lighting candles for the purpose of generating light can be a dangerous situation with the elderly, especially if they live alone. Be sure the batteries are not expired and there is a supply of them in the home.
  5. Invest in supplies that can easily last a week—first aid supplies, bottled water, nonperishable food items, batteries, oxygen, medications (make sure you are not low on meds that will be life threatening if you run out), batteries for wheelchairs and hearing aids.
  6. Make sure your family members and/or neighbors have an extra key allowing them to enter your home if you or your infirmed loved one is unable to get to the door.
  7. Keep important papers and information in a waterproof container—insurance documents, social security number, Medicare card(s), medical information and records, information for life-sustaining devices, allergy information, as well as names and lists of all your providers. Also include any wills, deeds, and bank account information.

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