Wednesday, November 20, 2013

This Year, Give the Gift of Emergency Preparedness!

Here come the holidays! Are you shopping for your older parents, grandparents and other senior loved ones? It can be hard to think of the perfect gift for older adults. A tie, a fruitcake, cologne, or a gadget that he or she may not even use? Nonsense. Here's an idea for a thoughtful holiday gift: give the gift of preparedness!
Year after year, news coverage of emergencies raises awareness that older adults and senior citizens are hit the hardest by storms, tornadoes, earthquakes and other natural and man made disasters. Seniors with physical limitations can be stranded in their homes, unable to evacuate, and cut off from the services upon which they rely. Older adults who use oxygen, power wheelchairs, dialysis and other medical equipment face real danger in power outages. It may not seem very festive to focus on this reality during the holidays—but this is a great time for the whole family to show their love and caring for senior relatives by taking practical steps to ensure their safety. 
Disasters can happen anytime, anywhere, and the holiday season provides a great opportunity to be sure that you and your loved ones are taking simple steps to be prepared. Just take a few minutes and discuss what you would do in case of an emergency or disaster. During holiday visits, discuss with your loved one what they would do in case of an emergency or disaster. Find out the location of the nearest emergency shelter. If your loved one has medical challenges, uses dialysis, oxygen, or an electric wheelchair, find out which shelter is designated for people with special needs. Arrange for someone to help if your loved one needs to evacuate, and someone to check in if your loved one is advised to shelter in place. Create a family communications plan so everyone knows how they would get in touch if they were separated when an emergency takes place. 
Once the planning stage is over, obviously you still want to wrap up a pretty package for that Christmas, Kwanzaa or Hanukkah gathering, right? What about emergency preparedness supplies that are practical and also show your concern for your loved one's well-being?

Here are some ideas:

  • A home preparedness kit (including food, water, a flashlight with extra batteries, a blanket, etc.)
  • A pet preparedness kit (including a leash, collar, collapsible water bowl, etc.)
  • A crank or battery powered radio (with extra batteries)
  • New smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Fire extinguishers (for the kitchen/garage)
  • A car kit
  • Foldable ladders for second-story escape from a fire
This year, my grandmother is going to get a brand new fire extinguisher, and a lesson on how to use it properly! I can't wait!

Happy Holidays!

Samantha Minks
AmeriCorps NPRC Member 2013-2014
Preparedness Coordinator
American Red Cross Kern Chapter

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