Prepare Before the Emergency. Here’s What You Need!

It’s hurricane season. As we brace for these large storms along the coast, other parts of the US are battling the unexpected: wildfires and extreme heat waves in the west. The time to prepare for the unexpected is before it happens. Most don’t anticipate or plan for these types of disasters, but consider the following hypotheticals:

  • Does your mother with Alzheimer's have aides who know what to do if the electricity goes out in her building (like during Superstorm Sandy)?
  • Can your uncle in a wheelchair be easily evacuated in the case of a fire?
  • Is there a plan in place for your aunt who has no air conditioning in the event of a major heatwave?
  • Are there copies of all vital documents for you and each family member and insurance policies somewhere safe?
  • What are the things you want to grab as you evacuate in a flood or fire?

Don't wait until you are in the midst of a crisis to make these kinds of decisions.

September is Emergency Preparedness Month and, as we have seen, the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. It is a good time to think through possible emergency scenarios and what plans can be implemented in response. Whether it is maintaining a box of non-perishables and water bottles, keeping your car’s gas tank full (during Hurricane Irma gas stations ran out of fuel while families tried to evacuate the Florida Keys), or making certain that you and your relatives have access to working fire extinguishers.

In an emergency where the senior cannot handle financial and medical decisions, the following needs to be in place:

  • Power of Attorney;
  • Health Care Proxy;
  • Signed Authorizations submitted to each health insurance company (Medicare, Secondary Insurance, Medicare D — Pharmacy Insurance) allowing family, friends, or other surrogates to speak on the senior’s behalf. Call each insurance company while the senior is well and request a form to be filled out listing the senior’s choice of authorized people. It is then signed by the senior and mailed back to the company.
  • Everyone should be carrying emergency contact information and insurance cards with them, but seniors and younger people who have medical conditions should also carry a list of medicines, dosage, the frequency of use and the prescribing doctor in their wallet. An Excel spreadsheet formatted to be credit card size is perfect.
  • Medical history — a list of all illnesses, past hospitalizations or operations, doctors, dates, and locations. This would also include a full-size version of the pharmaceuticals.

MAJOR DISASTERS

By now we are all familiar with the type of destruction that can occur during, and in the wake of, natural disasters. Houston is still in recovery from Hurricane Harvey and Irma has just made its way to Florida.  With so many people’s lives being affected by natural disaster and some of the most extreme weather fluctuations on record, it has only reinforced the need to “Get a Kit,” “Make a Plan” and “Be Informed.”

In addition to the documents cited above, being prepared (according to www.ready.gov) means having food, water, and supplies for at least 72 hours:

  • Water — at least one gallon per person per day;
  • Food — non-perishable;
  • Fire extinguisher;
  • Flashlights strategically placed around the home;
  • Phone that does not rely on electricity in case the power goes out and/or a cell phone with chargers and extra batteries;
  • One change of clothing and comfortable footwear and a blanket/sleeping bag per person;
  • First Aid Kit;
  • An extra set of car and house keys;
  • Sanitation supplies like toilet paper, toothbrush, and soap;
  • Special items for infants, the elderly or disabled persons;
  • Extra pair of glasses and/or contact lenses and solution;
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert;
  • Extra batteries;
  • Whistle to signal for help;
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation;
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities;
  • Manual can opener for food;
  • Prescription medications;
  • Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids or laxatives;
  • Cash or traveler's checks;
  • Matches in a waterproof container;
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils; and
  • If emergency power will be necessary, a portable generator.

“Build a Kit” instructions from Ready.gov can be found here. For more information specific to preparing seniors for an emergency see www.ready.gov/seniors.

Click here for more information on Healthcare Proxies and Power of Attorney.

Rebecca Schein Gideon Y. Schein,
Rebecca R. Eddy
Partner/Co-Founder
Gideon Y. Schein
Partner/Co-Founder

Eddy & Schein
212. 987.1427
NYmail@eddyandschein.com

626.395.7572
CAmail@eddyandschein.com

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