Emergency Preparedness: Five Reasons Why You Should Have a Plan

This month, we’re talking about emergency preparedness from the perspective of seniors and those who require in-home assistance.

Emergencies occur everyday at every scale. There is no way to know when or how they will take place, but we can do our best to prepare ourselves for coping with emergencies. Having a plan and strategies for emergency situations could make the difference in life or death for you and your loved ones. Let’s look at five reasons why it’s important to have a plan in place.

1)     It’s already challenging for those of us who are self-sufficient. Any emergency presents challenges, but those such as fire, flood and acts of terrorism threaten multiple lives and put people with disabilities, the elderly and other special needs populations at even greater risk. Challenges like mobility and stamina can make all the difference in whether or not someone can put distance between themselves and harm, or access needed resources. By knowing your specific needs ahead of time and anticipating how to address them in emergency situations, you will increase your chances of getting to a safe place and having what you need.

2)     Avoid making a confusing and stressful situation harder than it already is. Emergencies, by their very nature, are chaotic. People get confused, disoriented, separated and can’t communicate effectively—due to shock, over stimulation, adrenaline and a host of other factors. When you discuss a plan with your family and loved ones and put it on paper, everyone gains an understanding of the roles that need to be filled and what they can do or not do. It gives you a guide to follow in emergencies; you don’t have to rely on your memory and can focus on keeping yourself calm and safe.

3)     Increase your chances of finding and/or remaining in contact with your loved ones. There is no telling where you or your loved ones will be when a disaster strikes and depending on the type of disaster, you may not be able to communicate the way you normally do. If you have a plan of where to meet, and alternatives for how to get there, you will increase your chances of coming together. The same goes for getting in contact. If you prioritize methods for getting in touch and plan for alternatives, you are likely to find each other faster and know that everyone is safe.

4)     Ensure you have what you need. Without any warning, you may be required to leave your home or be confined to your home. If basic services such as water, electricity, telephones and gas were cut off, would you have what you need? What about the special things that you need, like your medications or clothing and mobility support? Having these items lined up and stocked before an emergency strikes gives you more time and comfort, so that you can focus on the things you can’t prepare for.

5)     Decrease your dependence on officials and relief workers. It’s true, your community officials and relief workers are trained to help others in these situations and they have a lot of valuable tools to help you. But, they also can’t get to everyone at the same time. There are many factors that could prevent them from providing you with immediate help. Therefore, you and those closest to you are your best resource in an emergency situation. Knowing what you need and working with your immediate community gives you greater chances of getting through those long, sometimes isolated hours just after a disaster.

Now that we’ve convinced of the value of having a plan, we encourage you to start developing one!  You can start with the Anchorage Municipality website.

The American Red Cross also provides great resources as does FEMA’s Ready website.

*Quick tip: once you have your plan, post it where everyone can see it, keep a copy on you and make sure everyone involved in the plan has a copy.

In the coming weeks, we’ll get more in depth about how to incorporate certain aspects of emergency preparedness into your plan.

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