Do you have an emergency plan?

Firefighter in rubble

We are fortunate that in our beautiful part of the country we seldom deal with natural disasters, but that doesn’t mean we should not be prepared for the unexpected. Around here hurricanes don’t occur but GOD willing we will have an abundance of snow this winter! The other very real concern for our region is wildfires, many parts of the state have dealt with fires this year.

With these natural disasters or events comes the very real possibility that you may be left without water, heat or electricity for several days. You may also be forced to evacuate your home with little notice. Are you ready for either of these circumstances? My niece Carla lives in one of the fire areas in California and cares for her disabled mother-in-law. Carla was told last week that they needed to prepare for evacuation. She was not at all prepared and called me for advice to make sure she didn’t forget something that she may need to provide care.

What are the key things we all need to have ready for ourselves and our loved ones? There are several great resources for emergency planning and companies that sell kits for emergency planning, these may be convenient but if you prepare with some basics you can save money by doing it yourself. Food, water, shelter, medications and heat source are the most important things to plan for. If you or a loved one uses oxygen or other medical equipment talk to your provider about a backup plan.

What documentation do you need to have ready to grab and go? Emergency contact names and phone numbers (your cell phone may not work to get your contacts). A list of your prescriptions and at least a 1-week supply. Be sure to have any medical directives with you, in addition to copies of identification, Medicare and social security cards and your credit cards.

Nonperishable foods that don’t require cooking, tuna, peanut butter and nuts are great options. Be sure to have extra water on hand, I usually keep several gallons on hand and a case of smaller bottles I can take with me if needed. When I anticipate a massive storm, I fill trash cans with water for the toilets.

Keep a flashlight and extra blankets in each room of your home and your vehicle and always have extra batteries on hand. A kerosene or oil heater and fuel will provide heat for a small space if the electric does out. NEVER use your gas or propane cook stove as a heat source.

A “Go-bag” with a few changes of clothes, wet wipes, meds, travel size toiletries, first aid kit, extra eyeglasses or contacts, a small knife and can opener and a small amount of cash.

We should all have an emergency plan and a plan B and rehearse the plan. Carla and her family were evacuated and allowed back home two days later, all went as well as could be expected but they spent their time at the emergency shelter creating a written plan for the dreaded next time.

Eva Veitch, Community Living Services Director for Region 10: 970-765-3127

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Eva Veitch