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Local Company Wants Seniors to be Better Prepared for Severe Weather

As Lightning Safety Week begins, a local home care provider in Sioux Falls is reminding neighbors that when disaster strikes, it is often the elderly who live alone that are most in need of help.

Being ready in case of an emergency could prevent an elderly family member or a neighbor from a life threatening situation. Jared Hybertson from Home Instead Senior Care says communication is key between elderly living alone and neighbors.

“Make a plan- scheduling a family meeting to develop a plan of action is really one that should be top of the list,” Hybertson says. “Also taking stock is a good one too. Decide what a senior can and can’t do in case of an event of a natural disaster. Some are more mobile than others, some are more wheelchairs bound, but it’s important to think about our seniors in those types of emergencies.”

After forming a plan of action, the checklist suggests packing an emergency backpack with food, water, and other supplies such as a blanket. For the elderly, having extra medication is also important too. But Hybertson says simply checking in on a neighbor could start the discussion over safety.

“I think it goes a long way to allowing those age groups in our community to live happier, longer, lives in their home,” Hybertson says.   

Having a list of important contacts available, such as doctor and family information  can also save valuable time during a disaster. 

Home Instead Senior Care's Disaster Prep Checklist For Seniors:

·         Tune in.  Contact the local emergency management office to learn about the most likely natural disasters to strike your area.  Stay abreast of what’s going on through your local radio or television. 

·         Take stock.  Decide what your senior can or can’t do in the event of a natural disaster.  Make a list of what would be needed if a disaster occurred.  For example, if your loved one is wheelchair-bound, determine an evacuation strategy ahead of time. Prepare for whatever disaster could hit the area.

·         To go or to stay?  When deciding to evacuate, older adults should go sooner rather than later.  By waiting too long, they may be unable to leave if they require assistance.

·         Make a plan.  Schedule a family meeting to develop a plan of action.  Include in your plan key people – such as neighbors, friends, relatives and professional caregivers – who could help. 

·         More than one way out.  Seniors should develop at least two escape routes: one to evacuate their home and one to evacuate their community.  The local emergency management office can tell you escape routes out of the community.

·         Meet up.  Designate a place to meet relatives or key support network people outside the house, as well as a second location outside the neighborhood, such as a school or church.  Practice the plan twice a year. 

·         Get up and “Go Kit.”  Have an easy-to-carry backpack including three days non-perishable food and water with an additional four days of food and water readily accessible at home.  Have at least one gallon of bottled water per person per day.  Refresh and replace your supplies at least twice a year.  And don’t forget the blanket and paper products such as toilet paper.

·         Pack extras and copies.  Have at least a one-month supply of medication on hand at all times.  Make ready other important documents in a waterproof protector including copies of prescriptions, car title registration and driver’s license, insurance documents and bank account numbers, and spare checkbook.  Also take extra eyeglasses and hearing-aid batteries.  Label every piece of important equipment or personal item in case they are lost.

·         Your contact list.  Compile a contact list and include people on a senior’s support network as well as doctors and other important health-care professionals.

·         If you can’t be there.  If you’re not living close by to help your loved one, enlist the help of family or friends, or contact a professional caregiving company.