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Disaster Preparedness Guide for Caregivers

emergency kit, water bottles, mask, flashlight, etc.

Whether you are worried about severe winter storms, yearly hurricanes, wildfires, or heat waves, it definitely pays to be prepared for natural disasters. If you have a loved one that you provide care for, then you know they may be at particular risk for injury or illness related to natural disasters. Having a plan and making sure that you and your loved one have discussed what will happen is important to reduce that risk. In this guide, we’ll discuss what to do and how to stay safe during a disaster, so that you can all stay safe and stay together.

Disaster Risks and Readiness Tips

The first step in preparing for a disaster is determining what kinds of risks are in your area. A good way to do this is to use FEMA’s National Risk Index to identify what kinds of weather-related risks are most common. The second step is to gather up and accomplish the following checklist:

  • Create an Emergency Plan – Who will your loved one contact during an emergency, and what happens if the phone service is disrupted?
  • Enroll in a Registry – Make sure that the local police department, fire department, and caregiving agency is aware of you, your loved one, and any particular needs you have in case of an emergency.
  • Pack a Kit – make sure you include medications, medical supplies, non perishable snacks, bottled water, a flashlight, batteries, chargers for electronics, and copies of important documents such as ID, insurance, and financial information.
  • Know Where to Go – identify where the nearest emergency shelter is, and make a plan on how your loved one can get there safely in case of an emergency.
  • Know Your Treatments – if your loved one receives dialysis or some other type of routine medical treatment, contact that provider to learn more about their emergency plan.
  • Make a List – of daily medical supplies and prescriptions that you’ll need more of, if the supply in your kit runs out.
  • Keep Supplies Ready – if your loved one uses a CPAP machine, make sure there is a battery unit charged and next to the “Emergency Kit.” Also store ice packs and a cooler in your freezer so that if your loved one needs to bring along their insulin, they can simply move it from the refrigerator to the cooler and go.

Disasters That Don’t Require Evacuation

When it comes to extreme heat, or extreme cold, you and your loved one may not be required to evacuate quickly. Instead, your loved one may be stuck in their home without heat or air conditioning, and it may become important to continually monitor your loved one and try the following:

For Heat

  • Portable air conditioners, fans, and blocking off rooms in the home, so that there is at least one room that is cooler than the rest.
  • Make sure that plenty of bottled water is ready and available so that your loved one stays properly hydrated.
  • Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothes made from cotton to help with breathability and comfort.
  • Help your loved one take frequent cool showers, or even keep a damp cloth on the back of their neck.
  • If you lose power, your loved one may need a place to go, check for the closest emergency shelter, or make a plan with your loved one for an alternate caregiver who may be able to provide relief.

For Cold

  • Have a backup heat source available, such as a space heater.
  • Make sure that the heating system is well-maintained, and add weatherstripping to all windows and doors before the cool season starts.
  • Make sure your loved one has plenty of temperature-appropriate clothing, including thermal underwear, heavy jackets, and insulated hats.
  • Reschedule non-urgent errands or appointments during dangerous travel times when the roads are frozen.
  • Plan, know, and talk about the closest emergency warming center in case your loved one loses power.

When it comes right down to it, simply having a plan will help ease everyone’s mind. If you need help, Homewatch CareGivers of Bryan College Station can provide you with information and resources to guide you. Keep browsing our website for more information, or contact us today to learn more.

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