Friday, September 02, 2011

Get Ready campaign offers tips to help seniors prepare for emergencies

Having preparations in place to get through disasters is important for everyone — but it becomes especially critical when you are older and may need special assistance because of impaired mobility or health.

The Get Ready campaign asked Jim Judge, a member of the American Red Cross’ Scientific Advisory Council and chair of its Disaster Health Subcommittee, for insights on how older Americans can stay safe and healthy during an emergency. Here are a few of his tips:

• Decide your shelter plan: Depending on the type of emergency, you may decide to “shelter in place,” staying put in your home until the situation passes. For seniors, however, a safer bet might be a special needs shelter, which is a community-operated facility with medical staff and equipment on hand. Some of these facilities may have services to transport people with wheelchairs or other mobility issues.

• Personalize your emergency kit: Make sure that you have extra glasses, hearing aids and batteries or other items that you may need to see yourself through the emergency.

• Get informed: Check out your local American Red Cross chapter and look up the emergency management services your community offers.

• Communicate with your senior living facility: All assisted-living communities and nursing homes are required by law to have an emergency plan. If you live in such a facility, ask to look over their plan to learn about their evacuation procedures and their preparations for food, water and medicine in case of disaster.

For more tips on senior preparedness, download a PDF of the free Get Ready fact sheet on the topic, which is available in English or Spanish.

Read the interview with Judge on the Get Ready website, or listen to it as podcast.

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