Being prepared isn’t just for Boy Scouts but for anyone living in Mission Valley or elsewhere. As Californians, just about all of us have been told to expect the unexpected, whether this means changes in our lives, such as health emergencies or needing to transition quickly into palliative care, or natural disasters that can affect the whole community.
The team at Accredited Home Care is always available to encourage our clients to be ready for anything and take the opportunity to prepare, whether it’s an earthquake, a tidal wave or something similarly wide-scale and devastating. It doesn’t have to be a major disaster either – even a power outage for a few days during a hot summer could be potentially life-threatening for people in poor health who don’t have anywhere to go or good ways to cool down. Or a sudden fire could be scary and require a quick evacuation.
Some of these situations can be further complicated by people’s mental or physical conditions. Someone who may have trouble walking or other mobility problems may not be able to move as quickly or may be more resistant to evacuating, knowing that it will be difficult for them.
Someone with dementia may need guidance and monitoring, including proper identification and contact information in case they get confused or are lost in the crowds.
Or people may not remember to bring their medications or have access to more, creating other health problems later.
While some levels of disaster evacuations are suggested but not required, people who deliberately choose to stay in the path of danger are often left alone until the larger problems are taken care of and resources can be spared. Or, if their home is damaged, they may be at risk of everything from gas leaks to spoiled food.
How to plan
September is National Preparedness Month, an annual occasion when people are encouraged to focus on how to help their homes and families as well as their local communities.
Though there are various state and federal agencies that are dedicated to helping people in disaster and emergency situations, many of these affirm that the most important people in the equation are the local responders and even people who make sure their families are prepared and also look out for their neighbors.
National Preparedness Month was launched in 2004 by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to encourage people to be ready for anything at every level. It also promotes general disaster and emergency planning throughout the year and also offers suggestions for people who want to be prepared but don’t know how to get started.
For instance, being ready can include:
- Basic supplies for at least two weeks. This includes food and water, blankets/sleeping bags and other necessary supplies for survival.
- At least one light source such as a lantern or flashlight in case power is unavailable. If they are battery-powered, make sure you have extra batteries available that will last at least two weeks.
- Medical and contact information, which can contain details about your family, including identification and any medical needs.
- If any of your family has other medical needs, bring them along too such as extra oxygen or medication.
- Bring along any phone charging devices. Although some local phone networks and electrical grid may not be working in a large-scale disaster, eventually they’ll be restored so you can communicate with others. There are also solar-powered charging stations that can power phones without a generator or electrical hook-up.
- Even if you don’t have to leave your home during a disaster, it’s still a good idea to be prepared for any dramatic changes. For instance, running water may not work so you’ll have to find another source of water for drinking, cooking, bathing or even flushing the toilet.
- You also can minimize any fire risk by checking the circuit breaker. You may have power after all but the breaker has been tripped. Or when the power comes back on there could be a dangerous surge if many lights and other powered items are still on.
What to do
A key part of being prepared is thinking about possible worst-case scenarios and figuring what you and your family can do if they happen.
For instance, telling the whole family the disaster plan – or even asking for everyone’s input in creating it – can go a long way in making sure everyone knows what to do and where to go if needed.
Part of this can also include talking to others in your community. Where should you go if your house is in a disaster zone and you can’t live in it anymore? If you have someone in your party who has reduced mobility or may have dementia problems, is there a safe shelter for him or her?
Where can you go to find more information if the radio or phone networks are down or the roads are closed? Local law enforcement will likely be happy to discuss these options with you, especially when there’s no disaster in progress.