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Posted: June 30, 2008

Practical Caregiving

In Disaster's Face, Caregivers Must Prepare

I like living in Iowa. However, this year has not been the best here. We had so much snow that we came close to breaking a record. Tornadoes have been common, including one that killed four Boy Scouts. Towns were nearly demolished.

Recently, it started raining, and it didn’t stop until there were floods.  Big floods. Many cities and towns have been inundated, and people had to evacuate. Even now, levies continue to break along the Mississippi River, flooding more towns. It doesn’t seem to stop. The flood levels have risen to the second floor of many buildings and homes. People have been stranded and some have been forced to abandon their beloved animals.

It’s just a huge mess!

What if you were in an emergency situation where you had to evacuate within minutes, or even a few days? Would you be able to pick up the most important material things in your life and leave? Would you have medicines ready – yours and your loved one’s? Would you even know what to grab as you flee?

 

This is the time to think about a disaster, while you have time to consider everything. When disaster strikes, you just don’t have time to think of all you need to do and take with you.

 

First of all, think of the area where you live and what disasters might befall you. Do you have hurricanes? In Iowa we don’t have hurricanes, but we have tornados and floods. You need to know how you will learn about anything that is coming your way. Will sirens sound? Will the news media report it? What’s the history of disasters in your area? The floods we have had this year seem to fall into the once-in-500-years category, but then floods 15 years ago seemed to fall in that range also.

 

Take an assessment: Who lives in your home? Where do your loved ones live? Who are you responsible for protecting? If your loved one lives in a different location than you, should they move in with you before a disaster hits (if feasible)? Or, should you move in with them? Will you have time for any movement at all?

 

After you consider disasters that might hit your area, make a list of everything you and other members of your family need to do and have during your disaster. Make a separate list of medicines each person needs, how often they take them, prescription numbers, doctors’ names, pharmacy names, their telephone numbers and emergency contact names and numbers.

 

If you put this list on your computer, print out more than one copy; you might lose the electricity and you won’t have access to the list. Go over your list with everyone involved. Get their input and make any needed changes.

 

You need a place for that list and everything else you may need. Go over the list periodically. Situations and needs do change.

 

Also, make sure you have insurance to cover the types of disasters that affect your area. Keep your important papers in a safe place, where you can get to them quickly if needed. It probably should be in a waterproof container.

 

Be prepared for anything. You might be able to stay in your home without electricity for hours or days. Or you may have to evacuate and stay in a shelter for hours or days. Be prepared for whatever your might face. One thing I’ve been told recently is to wear shoes or have them with you if a tornado, hurricane or flash flood hits. After it leaves, there is broken glass and other things you must walk over. It is important to protect your feet as well as the rest of you.

 

If you must evacuate, find out where to go and what route to take. Mark the destination on a map to take with you. If you must evacuate, don't wait until it is too late; when notified, put your loved ones and pets in the car, fill up with gas, and calmly drive the route you already have charted.

 

Here is a list of supplies you might want to keep on hand.

 

·         two-week supply of medicines

·         3-7 day supply of water and food that won’t spoil

·         extra clothing

·         extra blankets and pillows

·         fully stocked first aid kit

·         flashlights (candles are dangerous)

·         battery-powered radio

·         extra batteries, including hearing aid batteries, if applicable

·         any extra special items that you or your loved one needs (such as adult diapers)

·         extra car keys, eyeglasses, credit cards, etc.

·         personal items such as toothpaste, deodorant, soap, etc.

·         any supplies needed for your pets

 

I hope you never are affected by a disaster. But we can’t see the future, and we must be prepared. You don’t want to see someone seriously hurt or dead because you didn’t know what to do. As a responsible caregiver, you would have to live with that the rest of your life. Don’t take that chance. Prepare.

© 2008 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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Please send me your questions, comments and issues regarding the practical side of caregiving at ASKJEAN@caregivershome.com, and remember to take advantage of our professionals and experts in the Ask an Expert section of our website. You'll find it in the left column on our homepage.

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