September is National Preparedness Month
If an emergency occurred tomorrow, would you be ready?
September is National Preparedness Month. Sponsored by FEMA, National Preparedness Month recognizes the need to educate citizens to prepare for and respond to all types of emergencies, including natural disasters and potential terrorist attacks. The Cattaraugus County Department of the Aging, in conjunction with the Cattaraugus County Office of Emergency Services, can provide you with many tips on how to keep yourself and your elderly loved ones prepared in case of a local disaster.
Because emergencies can happen anywhere, at any time, it is important to have plans in place and a support system that can help. The American Red Cross recommends that senior citizens create a personal support network made up of several individuals who will check in on you in an emergency to ensure your wellness and to give assistance if needed. This network can consist of friends, family members, caregivers, personal attendants, agencies, and neighbors. Ideally, a minimum of three people should be identified.
A common list of things to consider when preparing with your disaster support network include:
- Having a plan and making arrangements prior to emergency situations
- Exchanging important keys
- Showing them where you keep emergency supplies
- Sharing copies of your important documents, emergency health information card, and/or evacuation plans
- Agreeing on a method for contacting each other or meeting at a designated location, especially if there is no telephone usage or cell phone reception
- Always notifying each other if you are going out of town, into the hospital, or if your routine is changed for any other reason
- Always keep emergency numbers posted near your phone
- Make sure any medical equipment you may need is labeled and listed on your emergency supply list where first responders or your informal support can find them and access them
- Create signs ahead of time that you could put in your window if you needed to signal for help
- Remember to include your prescriptions, extra eyeglasses, hearing aid batteries, or any other important medical supplies on your evacuation list and in your "bug out bag"
In addition to the Cattaraugus County Department of the Aging and the Emergency Services Office, there are many wonderful online resources that can help you to be more prepared and less anxious in case a disaster should happen. An excellent resource called "Disaster Preparedness for Seniors by Seniors" can be found on the Red Cross website. Other websites to visit for resources include cdc.gov, ready.gov, and weather.gov.