Hurricane Sandy brought me up short. I realized how much I didn't know that I knew I should know. Where is the closest evacuation shelter? Where are Boudreaux's vet records? Fortunately, we didn't need to evacuate. We are far enough inland that lots of wind, rain and cold weather was really all we experienced. Oh, and a partially downed tree and spotty internet service. I'm prepared now...for the next emergency.
Flashlights and spare batteries. One flashlight should be safely stowed beside your elder's favorite spots---their chair, bed, the back door. Candles are fine if your elder is steady and not easily confused. Flashlights are my choice with Boo and for any elder moving from room to room.
Fully charged cell phone with programed numbers. Any cell phone with good reception that your elder knows how to use will work.
Food and water. At least one gallon of potable water per person per day is the minimum. Protein bars, peanut butter or cheese crackers, fruit, Ensure or Glucerna and cereal bars are the types of foods I keep on hand for Boo at times like this. I absolutely do not want him to attempt to heat anything. If your elder is different, stock up on those foods that are easily prepared and a simple way to prepare them. Additional water should be reserved for personal cleaning.
Medication, medical equipment, medical history and medical power of attorney. Having these items together and ready to go is an absolute necessity. Medical equipment includes glucometer and test strips, blood pressure monitor, walker or cane. They should be kept beside your packed bag. Another important item I include is the names, addresses and phone numbers of several friends and the places they've planned to be during an emergency---work, specific evacuation shelter, etc.
Packed evacuation bag. This bag should include a complete change of comfortable clothes for three or four days. Important things to remember: denture supplies, incontinence supplies, small items to help you feel more comfortable. For Boo, small items include a 4x6 brag book of photos that help orient him, a knotted cord rosary and a small hand held cross one of his daughters gave him.
Be sure to have photo identification on you. Your driver's license or state identification, Medicare and insurance cards and a card listing phone numbers of family and friends. If you're in an accident or become confused, identification and contact people are extremely important.
Full tank of gas, flashlight, bottles of water and nonperishable snacks, tarp and a blanket in car. Just in case you're redirected to another area or cannot reach your shelter immediately, you'll be prepared. A silver space blanket is good to have. It is very lightweight, waterproof and helps to conserve body heat.
Know the location of the closest shelter and several routes to it. This one should be self explanatory. If you don't know shelter locations in your area, the police department, social services or local hospital are good places to ask. Checking in advance to familiarize yourself with the shelter is a very good idea. Are there steps that might be problematic? There shouldn't be, but sometimes are.
Have an evacuation plans for any pets. Have a pet carrier and/or a sturdy leash and collar, food, prepared litter box (if needed) and vet record including rabies vaccine information. Some shelters accept pets. You need to know this in advance! If it does not, which veterinarians or animal shelters accept animals during a temporary emergency. Just as with any shelter, know the location and several routes.
Have a firm plan for contacting family once you have reached safety. Generally, it's a good idea to choose someone not in your immediate area as your contact person. This helps to ensure that your contact person is not searching for shelter themselves. Many shelters will assist elders in contacting one person. Instead of cell phone calls, text messages are suggested as creating less of a load on the system. When phone lines and cell towers are down, ham radio operators can be contacted by shelter personnel to get in touch with one contact person. This isn't a fast service, but it does work.
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