Emergency Preparedness for Seniors or Those with Special Health Needs
You can prepare for potential hazards by having a plan in place to deal with anticipated impacts of an event. Having your plan and emergency kit prepared in advance is the best way to support your family and pets. You may need to Shelter in Place or “hunker down” in your home for at least 72 hours (3 days) without needing to leave for supplies. Plan to be without power in many hazards that could occur.
Disasters hit everyone hard, but individuals with disabilities, medical conditions or requiring regular access to medications may be at greater risk. Creating a personal support network of family, friends, neighbours, health-care providers, or co-workers who understand your special needs is important to support you in an emergency. It may take some time for emergency personnel to reach you.
Things to consider for your situation may include:
- Accommodation needs
- Insurance information
- Medical conditions
- Emergency contacts
- Family medical history
- Recent vaccinations
- Health screenings
- Surgeries recent, past, or upcoming
- What equipment you need with you
- Organize your emergency kit and put it in an easy-to-access location. Ensure any caregivers and members of your personal support network know its location.
- Label all of your special needs equipment including instructions on how to use and/or move each assistive device during an emergency in case someone unfamiliar with assists you.
- Complete a Personal Assessment Checklist and provide a copy to your designated network(s). Keep a copy in your emergency kit(s).
- If you have food/drug allergies, wear a MedicAlert bracelet or necklace.
- List all food/drug allergies and current medications (for each medication, specify the medical condition being treated, the generic name, dosage, frequency, and the name and contact information of the prescribing physician). Provide this list to your designated network and keep a copy in your emergency kit(s).
- If you rely on any life-sustaining equipment or if you require regular attendant care, check with your electric utility provider to get added to their critical customer list. Also, ask your personal network to check on you immediately following an emergency and have an emergency backup plan in the event of a power outage or evacuation.
- During an emergency, if your support network is unable to help, ask others for help and inform them of your special needs and how they can assist you.
- Carry a personal alarm that emits a loud noise to draw attention.
- Be aware that experiencing an emergency can be overwhelming and stress can worsen some medical conditions.
- Work with your neighbours and assign a “safety buddy” to check on you and offer extra help if needed.
- Keep a copy of this information in your emergency kit and give a copy to your personal support network.
Talk to your doctor about preparing a grab-and-go bag, if possible, with a supply of medication and medical supplies. Include prescriptions and medical documents. Remember that pharmacies may be closed for some time, even after an emergency is over.
The Public Health Agency of Canada advises that if it is not possible to keep additional medication on hand for emergency use, you should keep an accurate description of your health conditions, your prescription dose and frequency, treatment requirements, and name of prescribing physician. Having this information readily available can assist emergency responders to address the medical and health needs in a timely and efficient way. Download the
Medications in Emergency Preparedness Kit
Disabilities Related Information
Mobility Problems: If you use a motorized wheelchair or scooter, have an extra battery. In a pinch, a car battery can be used with a wheelchair but will not last as long. Store a lightweight manual wheelchair for backup that can easily be folded and carried. Identify different ways to leave a building and have a plan if elevators are not working.
Electric Powered Medical Equipment: For individuals who have electric-powered medical equipment at home that is necessary to sustain life or avoid serious medical complications (such as an oxygen machine), check with your electric utility provider to add your name to their Critical Customer Care Program.
Blind or visually impaired: Store a talking or large-print timepiece with extra batteries, an extra pair of dark glasses if needed and a folded mobility cane.
Deaf or Hard of Hearing: Install audible and visual smoke alarms. At least one should be battery-operated. Store extra batteries for hearing aids and portable TTYs. Store a pad of paper and pens or a small erasable whiteboard for writing notes.
Diabetes: View Diabetes Care...Planning for an Emergency (PDF) for a checklist of how to prepare for and how to protect your health during an emergency. Store at least a three-day supply of whatever you need to manage your diabetes. This may include oral medications, insulin, syringes, blood glucose testing strips and tester (with extra batteries), cleansing wipes and sharps disposal containers. If you use an insulin pen, you should still store some insulin syringes in case your pen breaks. Store quick sources of sugar, such as juice packs and hard candies.
Drugs Exposed to Unsafe Water: Drugs (pills, oral liquids, drugs for injection, inhalers, skin medications) that are exposed to floodwater or unsafe municipal water may become contaminated. This contamination may lead to diseases that can cause serious health effects. Drug products – even those in their original containers – should be discarded if they have come into contact with floodwater or contaminated water. For lifesaving drugs, if the container is contaminated but the contents appear unaffected (if the pills are dry), the pills may be used until a replacement can be obtained. If a pill is wet, it is contaminated and should be discarded
Reconstituted Drugs: For children’s drugs that have to be made into a liquid using water (reconstituted), the drug should only be reconstituted with boiled or bottled water. Liquids other than water should not be used to reconstitute these products.
Drugs that Need Refrigeration: Some drugs require refrigeration. Check with your pharmacist about what you should do during a power outage. Temperature-sensitive drugs lose potency if not refrigerated and should be replaced with a new supply as soon as possible.
If a contaminated product is considered medically necessary and would be difficult to replace quickly, you should contact a healthcare provider for guidance. If you are concerned about the efficacy or safety of a particular product, contact your pharmacist or healthcare provider.
Guide for People with Disabilities/Special Needs
Source: Get Prepared