Wildfire safety checklist


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The wildfires in Southern Arizona have prompted officials to predict an extreme wildfire season. With that in mind, it’s a good time to start thinking about the safety of our senior loved ones. Are they prepared for a natural disaster? Do you have a an evacuation plan in place should they need to get to safety?

It’s important to remember that older adults often have physical limitations that can leave a family unprepared to help a senior act quickly to get to safety. We suggest families start planning now for an emergency that could affect a senior’s health or safety.

The following checklist should help you get started:

____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 of 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.

For more information about disaster preparedness, contact Home Instead Senior Care at www.homeinstead.com

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