23 July 2008

First in a series. Today: Disaster, are you ready?

This is the first in a series of reports pertinent to seniors and families. Today; Getting Ready for Disaster. Tomorrow; Old Scams, New Faces. Be sure to refer your friends!

As Hurricane Dolly comes ashore around Brownsville, I am thinking about the single most important lesson of Katrina and Rita: The veneer of law and order and the social infrastructure is thin and fragile, and older people are the most vulnerable when they fail. But, they are not the only ones. Disabled persons and people with young children share the vulnerability of older people.

We must prepare ourselves for the next emergency; whether it’s a terror attack, energy failure, tornado, fire, storm and flooding, other natural disaster, or civil upheaval. Disaster can come quickly without warning, and, it might take days for first responders or relief workers to make their way to you.

The American Red Cross and several government agencies have put together tips and guides for preparing for such emergencies. How well one survives and recovers from emergency or disaster depends on one’s preparedness. Do not hope it will never happen to you—Get Ready Now!

1) First, think basics and plan for three days to a week.

You will need a gallon of water a day, per person.
Non-perishable food and an old fashioned non-electric can opener.
Battery operated or hand-crank radio, and a NOAA weather radio with plenty of batteries.
Flashlights and plenty of batteries.
First Aid Kit—and your prescriptions and other medications, and other medical supplies.
Whistle to signal for help.
Dust masks to filter contaminated air, plastic sheeting and duct tape to seal areas or create shelter.
Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation.
Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities—you do need to learn where they are, and how to do this.
Pet food, extra water and supplies for your pet or service animal.
Battery operated walkie-talkies to keep in touch with each other.
Extra eyeglasses or hearing aids if you require them.
A small hibachi or grill and charcoal for cooking and boiling water.
Some cash, and copies of your important documents: Medical records, deeds, family records and the like.
Extra clothing, socks and underwear. And a small sewing kit!

2) Make a plan, and make certain everyone in your family knows what that plan is. Stick to it as best you can.

Think in advance, the lights, water and phone will be off. Cell phones will be jammed or not working.
Create a personal support network, in advance. Find friends, neighbors, relatives or others who are near by and can help you if needed.
Communicate your plan. Your family may be separated when disaster happens, so review and determine what each of you must do in different scenarios.

By now, you should have the picture. You will most likely have sole responsibility for your safety and well-being for the first hours or days of disaster or national emergency. Accept that responsibility and be prepared. Do not fully rely on anyone else. If your “other” is the strong one, that might be the one who becomes injured or disabled. Prepare ahead, and be ready to be the one who is in charge.

You’ll need to give some advance thought to other matters. If evacuation is compelled, how will you handle that? What about your pets or service animals?

Weapons are individual choices. If maintaining a firearm for self-protection is part of your plan, then learn how and when to use it. Do not rely on your “other” to be the weapons person, that might be the one who is injured leaving you with a weapon you have no ability to use and that could be turned against you.

Here are a couple of sites with more information, resources and detailed, in depth advice:

The American Red Cross

Homeland Security

Coming tomorrow. Old scams targeting seniors and families are making a new appearance.

No comments: