A Caregiver’s Natural Disaster Prep List

Photo by taberandrew via creativecommons.org

Photo by taberandrew via creativecommons.org

Live in a hurricane area with an older relative? Does your parent or someone else you’re responsible for? The hurricane season is six months long (June 1 to Nov. 30); and you as a caregiver needs a substantive plan.

You know how mothers-to-be have their bags packed and their route to the hospital mapped out? If an older adult lives with you, nearby, or at a distance, having the same mindset makes sense.

Creating contingency plans-where your family member or friend will go, what they’ll need to bring, and who will take them-will ensure the best outcome possible and help keep the calm.

These four tips work for tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and other emergencies:

1. Think about it: Where will your loved one go if he/she needs to leave the house quickly? Out of town or the nearest shelter? There also may be a emergency shelter for special needs in the area. Know how to get there. Gas in the tank helps. Do they have a pet? Make a plan for their evacuation too.

2. ID your go-to people: Who will take them to safety? Even if they live with or near you, you may not be around when it’s time to vacate. Talk over disaster plans with a friend, family member, or neighbor who could step in. Caregiver No. 1 may not be available; have backup helpers who can do the job (i.e. are strong enough to lift a wheelchair or walker into the car.) They need a key to the house and instruction on where to find the evacuation bag.

Have a central person-you? -who is notified where they’re going. Before there’s a problem, let the county emergency services know if your parent is elderly or disabled.

3. Make a list of what you’ll need and pack that emergency bag now. It should have:

  • spare clothes for the care recipient
  • supplies they use (personal hygiene products or pills)
  • legal and medical documents
  • health insurance info
  • a list of family, friends, and neighbors with phone numbers, email, etc.
  • tips for comforting the recipient when they’re anxious (a favorite object, soothing music)
  • medication.

Get an extra supply of medicine and pill splitter, perhaps. Once you’ve scoped out where you’ll go, locate the nearest pharmacy in case you need a medication refill.

If indicated, have a health care proxy so you will have access to your parent’s medical records. How about legal guardian or power of attorney papers? Consult a family or legal aid lawyer.

In the get-away bag, tape items you’ll put in at the last minute such as hearing aids or eyeglasses.

4. Play out the scenario. Pretend that you or your parent knows a hurricane is on its way. Whatever is missing from your plan, add in post-haste.

Be sure to browse these two must-read resources from FEMA and the American Red Cross. If you live in a neighborhood or attend a church with many older residents, you can use AARP’s Create the Good Hurricane Prepare toolkit to help them prepare.

Hope you never need it, but just in case, save this post. And get packing!

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