If you do not have an emergency plan in place, you are not alone. Many people are not prepared with a clearly defined plan in case of an emergency. However, as a caregiver, you have more than just yourself to consider, so preparing for both a natural disaster or a health emergency should be part of your caregiving plan.
Even thinking about making a plan for an emergency is a great start - so thank you for reading. We hope this information gets you started on your emergency preparedness planning.
In an emergency, staying up to date on current events, recommendations and instructions is crucial. Fortunately, today we have smartphones to stay connected to the institutions providing information. Make sure you are paying attention to the risks in your specific communities.
You can utilize emergency websites to stay up to date on the latest information. Some useful websites for caregivers to follow during a natural disaster are:
Sign up on AlertOC.org for emergency notifications
Save these as part of your Emergency Kit documentation and stay informed! Also check with our CRCOC team to see what other local information resources we recommend for your specific neighborhood.
Make a Plan
When planning for an emergency including your elderly or adult disabled loved one, there are many questions to consider. As there will be changes in your family member’s (care receiver’s) health between now and a future disaster, your answers may always be evolving.
Consider and build your plan around these questions:
Which disasters occur in my area? Which occur in my loved one’s area?
How do I prepare for each type of disaster?
How will my loved one be warned? Will they be able to adequately respond?
How will I respond to my needs as well as the needs of the person I am caring for?
Some essential planning steps:
Choose a contact person & support network. Define who will help if you can’t be there to assist your loved one.
Create a List of Contact information of family & friends
Create a Care plan and keep a copy of the plan in your kit. A great resource to keep in your kit is the CDC Care Plan Template (Complete Care Plan form) that can be handed off when you check in to a shelter or hospital
Plan your Escape route from area
Ensure there is assistance for people with disabilities
As a caregiver, you must be proactive and prepared. As part of your emergency planning, it would be a great idea for you to sign up for first aid and CPR training as well.
Once you have an emergency plan developed, talk to your care receiver, and share the plan with them. You can even rehearse plans with your loved one to ensure it all makes sense and to be extra prepared in the event of a true emergency.
Build a Kit
When an emergency occurs, you are well-served to have a kit prepared. In the case of an emergency where you are confined in your home, it is recommended to have a 2 week supply of water & food available. A basic emergency preparedness kit in your home includes:
A two-week supply of Food & Water (1 gallon per person per day)
Battery Powered or Hand-Crank Radio
Flashlight (we recommend a headlight to keep your hands free if you’ll be responsible for a mobility impaired adult)
First Aid Kit
Cash & Coins
Change of Clothes & Shoes
Sanitation and personal hygiene supplies
Copies of Personal Documents (Medications, Medical info, Passports)
Caring for Older Adults in Emergency In the case of emergency when elderly or disabled adults are involved, you must consider Mobility Issues, Chronic Health Issues, diminished Hearing & Vision, and more. Ensure your plan accounts for the specific health needs of your care receiver.
If your loved one has cognitive issues, check out this Comprehensive Planning Toolkit for Dementia via National Alzheimer's and Dementia Resource Center | NADRC
Another great program to participate in is the Vial of Life - VIAL OF LIFE WELCOME - Registering with Vial of Life will assist First Responders in collecting all relevant info on your loved one if they enter the residence to assist. The Vial of Life is a sticker on your loved one’s front door, indicating that you have collated all relevant medical info and stored visibly on the fridge in the kitchen. We recommend adding a picture of your loved one, and yourself to keep everyone informed as possible.
It’s tough to plan for unknown or “off in the future” emergency situations, but the more prepared you get now, the better the outcome of an emergency. Knowing you did your best to prepare and care for both yourself and your loved one is a gift. So, remember, in case of emergency: Use your kit, use your network, and stay alert and informed.