Emergency Kit for Seniors…Ideas
by francy Saunders
Dear Francy; Mom is in a retirement home so I’m not worried about her care in the middle of a small emergency. But after watching Japan and all the sadness, I worry about who would help her in a big emergency?
Katrina, Japan…I think we have all taken note, that it takes at least three days before people are getting help. That is what happens, there is always a time that we are each alone and need to plan on how to make it over the first few days of a big emergency. So I wanted to write down some ideas, I have given classes in Senior Emergency for many years and I will share some notes with you.
These ideas are for anyone but I’m gearing the information for older seniors. Find a backpack…they are easier to grab and take out the door and if you have to walk you can put it on your back. If you are weak, be practical, make the backpack very light and keep only the most important life-sustaining things inside and you can drape the backpack on your walker to carry it, if need be. If you cannot carry anything use a small overnight case with wheels.
Your Emergency Pack;
You can buy a pre made emergency pack at large stores in the sports department. There are simple things put together for your needs. You can then add to it or make your own.
THINK…what would I need with no electricity or if I have to actually leave my home?
- Light weight slicker/raincoat rolled up in bottom of the pack. Add a Ziploc with 3 pairs of socks, 3 undies, hand cleaner, small plastic cup and a small pack of hand wipes from the dollar store.
- Clean Ziploc bags; small baby shampoo can be used for hands or hair. Small Toothpaste and new toothbrush. Small Hairbrush. Use small tissues in your pack for toilet paper. If you need bladder control, add in a few pads for that purpose. Gum can clear your mouth and make you feel like you are having food, and if it’s sugar based it will give you a boost. A plastic garbage bag for you to use for many things, folded flat.
- Rx Ziplock; buy a box (usually 3) face masks, small Sun protector cream, Neosporin tube, a few Band-Aids, aspirin or Advil and chap stick.
- Meds; Make a copy of your medical ID and insurance and fold it and add to a Ziploc with information. A pair of old glasses in a hard case. A photocopy of your Rx from the doctor (glasses too) and 3-7 days of meds in a Ziploc container. Be able to tell the rescue people the name of the pills you take each day. If you are Diabetic or other health issue…make a large ID for the outside of your backpack and say DIABETIC…Ann Clark. I have one for George that says ALZHEIMER’S GEORGE – that way anyone helping you will see it and understand your needs.
- Write down a few names for others to connect with to help you. Example for George: Wife; Francy Cell #0000, Sister in Oregon Cell# Email address, Son in Calif Cell# Email#, Dr Name Office phone# — if you’re sick or confused, someone can look at that paper and help you get to family for help.
- Pair of older tennis shoes, small radio, matches, a can or bottle opener and some sort of small pocket knife, spoon and fork. Large black marker to leave a note on your house about where you went, so your family can find you.
- Money/10-$1 bills/2-$5 bills / 1-$10 bill Put that in an envelope and keep in your pack or case. If you need to get a taxi or pay for help you will have a few dollars to do so. Do not put in too much money you do not want to be robbed. Copy the name of your insurance and policy # so you can contact them about your home or renters insurance.
- Small blankets out of a foil type of cloth can be purchased for your kit. A blow up neck pillow that stores flat and folds up. There are other items that you will find in the hardware stores or large chain stores in the sports section and always look for things at the Dollar store. Once this backpack is prepared put it by the exit door in a place that is easy for you to get to and grab. If the power is off and you have to leave the home, you can crawl to the door to stay safe and pull or push your backpack out the door with you.
In the middle of an emergency:
Seniors need to ask for help, do not stay behind, do not stay alone. Go outside or put a big message in your window with HELP on it so someone comes to help you. Find a young couple to join. You can watch the children while they do the needed chores. They will have the energy to help you.
The world has changed, now messages get out on cell phones, text on cell phones, Internet via Skype, ham radio and satellite phones. So be prepared with the family information in your kit so someone can read it and make a call to your family.
Make a plan ahead of time to connect with family. Say something happens big in your town; make a plan that everyone will go to a certain house, or a certain central place in the city. Or appoint a family member out of your area to be the central hub of information. That way everyone will be on the same plan of action. Red Cross will help you find your relatives so try hard to stay calm and know that when the emergency passes, things will clear and help will come to you.
As a senior you can help make the emergency calm, by telling children stories and re-assuring the other adults. You have years of experience of small emergencies…so during a crisis you’re a valuable help and your caring ways will ease a great deal of tension for others.
- Take UR marriage certificate to a copy shop and have it reduced so you can put it in your kit. Copy your passport information, if you can not grab your purse or your ID the emergency – Your backpack will have copies of things to help you. Tuck in a small book of family pictures –so if you have nothing left, your memories would be in place. Remember everything goes into Ziploc bags to keep dry.
- Pets/Put an extra lead and/or cat carrier by your backpack. Have a couple of days of food for dog or cat in a Ziploc and a small bowl for food and water. Make sure your animals have ID’s. If you cannot take them with you…let them be free in the backyard, not locked in the house or on a chain. If you love your pets you will leave your home and be safe, you can always get reconnected with your pets in the days after an emergency. Many emergency safe spots will now take animals, no need for you to stay in peril. Your animals will be OK if you think ahead and have a plan.
- Water is heavy; take a few bottles with you for your own use. At least three small bottles will keep you well for a couple of days. If you can tuck in a couple of Boost or Ensures so you have protein shakes that would be great.
- Food:/ Take protein bars, they last in your backpack and they are easy to eat and keep you nourished until you are helped with real food. Do not give your food away. Eat privately…you have to keep up your strength. Younger people can go longer without food…seniors cannot. Be sure to have those protein bars well wrapped and in an additional Ziploc for safety.
No matter what the major emergency is… it will be a few days before the services reach you. So just think through what you would do. Where would you go to be safe, ask a neighbor to help you, or know you will sit on your front porch until someone comes to help. Talking about it and knowing that even in a retirement community…you need to be prepared. If there are two of you, make two backpacks the more you have for each other the better. It’s always best to plan to stay close to your home, walking may have been enjoyable on a warm summer day…but not in the middle of a crisis. Just stay low, stay safe and be helpful to others, so they will be helpful to you.
When you think of things when life is good and calm…and plan for an emergency you can then put the thoughts away and go about your life. You will know that no matter what happens you are prepared and ready to face it. Millions of elders have lived through horrid emergencies and have had worthwhile lives and continued to give their family and friends joy for years after. BE PREPARED- you are loved.
For other tips please go to my website www.SeniorCareWithSpirit.com
Thanks for all you do for your seniors…francy