Natural disasters are one of humans’ oldest enemies, and despite the technological advances over the centuries, they still remain largely out of our control. They frighten us while they intrigue us. Earlier this fall, the Houston Museum of Natural History hosted an entire exhibit entitled “Nature Unleashed: Inside Natural Disasters” devoted to a “behind the scenes” look these catastrophes. The truth is, the last 10 years, which brought Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, have taught Houston area residents the need for every family to have an emergency preparedness plan. Many families were caught off guard by the wide spread destruction of these storms and people continue to deal with the devastating after effects.
The City of Houston maintains an entire website devoted to emergency preparedness, where you can download the latest 2014 emergency guide. In addition, all health care agencies are required by the State of Texas to have an emergency preparedness plan in effect at their agency to assist clients, but what about those who are not in the care of an agency? Below is an abbreviated version of an emergency preparedness plan with points to consider.
Make a List
- Medical information
- Allergies and sensitivities
- Copies of health insurance cards
- Emergency contact information, such Physicians, EMS, Fire, Red Cross, etc.
- Have on Hand
- A seven-day supply of essential medications (consult provider)
- Cell phone
- Standard telephone (that does not need to be plugged into an electric outlet)
- Flashlights and extra batteries
- Emergency food supply, consisting of dried and canned goods
- Assorted sizes of re-closeable plastic bags for storing, food, waste, etc.
- Small battery-operated radio and extra batteries
- Know where the closest shelter is located that can meet your special needs
- Plan for alternate locations
- Plan for transportation to a shelter or other location
- Have an emergency supply kit or “grab bag” prepared
- Arrange for assistance if you are unable to evacuate by yourself Shelter-in-Place
- Maintain a supply of non-perishable foods for 3-5 days
- Maintain enough bottled water; one gallon per person
- Be prepared to close, lock and board/seal windows and doors if necessary
- Have a care plan for your pet
- Locate a shelter for your pet as most emergency shelters will not accept animals
- Extra food and/or medications, leashes, carriers, bowls, ID tags etc.
Special Needs Considerations
- Speech or Communication Issues
- If you use a laptop computer for communication, consider getting a power converter that plugs into a cigarette lighter
Hearing and Language Issues
- Have a pre-printed copy of key phrase messages handy, such as:
- use American Sign Language (ASL),”’ ‘l do not write or read English well,” and so on
- Consider getting a weather radio, with a visual/text display that warns of weather emergencies
- Mark your disaster supplies with fluorescent tape, large print, or Braille
- Have high-powered flashlights with wide beams and extra batteries
- Place security lights in each room to light paths of travel
Assistive Device Users
- Label equipment with simple instruction cards on how to operate it. For example, how to “free wheel” or “disengage the gears” if you have a power wheelchair. Attach the cards to your equipment
- If you use a cane, keep extras in strategic, consistent and secured locations
- Keep a spare cane in your emergency kit
- Know what your options are if you are not able to evacuate with your assistive device
For more information or a more complete preparedness plan please contact Assisting Hands® Home Care at 281-540-7400 or visit us on the web at www.assistinghands.com.