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Seniors Need a Safety Plan in Face of Disasters

Medicines, contacts just part of emergency package necessary for survival, group says

FRIDAY, Aug. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Hurricane season is here, and the American Geriatrics Society offers advice to seniors to help them prepare for any potential natural disaster.

Develop an emergency plan:

  • Get local emergency and evacuation information in advance. Ask local authorities if there is a community disaster/emergency plan for your area. Obtain a map of evacuation routes and identify where to go for medical care.
  • Develop a communications plan with family and friends. Make sure they have your phone number and the numbers of nearby friends and neighbors who can be contacted if you can't answer the phone.
  • Designate two meeting places -- one near your home and another outside your neighborhood.
  • Talk to family members about how to evacuate, including whether or not you would be able to drive or would need someone to pick you up. In cases where seniors live in a facility, family members should discuss evacuation details with directors of the facility.
  • It may be a good idea to get a medical ID bracelet that includes information about health conditions, drug and food allergies, and emergency contacts.

Stock an emergency medical and disaster kit:

  • Include at least a two-week supply of medications in original packaging. Most insurance companies won't pay for more than a 30-day supply of medications, so request a vacation supply. Or you could ask your doctor for an extra prescription and pay for it out-of-pocket.
  • Be sure to include any regularly used medical equipment, such as blood sugar monitoring devices, hearing aid batteries, a blood pressure cuff, extra eyeglasses. You should also have ice packs/insulated bag for drugs that require refrigeration.
  • Include copies of your medical records and write a list of any medical problems and treatments. You should also have a list of all drugs you're taking and the doses.
  • Your kit should also include basic necessities such as: at least a three-day supply of water; non-perishable food; can opener; flashlight; portable radio; waterproof matches; a knife; re-sealable plastic bags; aluminum foil; plates and utensils; disposable cups; basic cooking utensils; maps; a complete change of clothes; blankets; phone numbers and identification papers; cash; and basic hygiene products.

More information

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has more about preparing for a disaster.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Geriatrics Society, news release, August 2007

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