Disaster Planning and Communication Issues
In addition to an emergency kit, medical records access, and considerations for power outages, disaster planning can include other factors as well. Your parents and in-laws probably don't move quickly; they may need an assis-tive device such as a cane or walker. They may not hear well or see well either and may need assistive devices such as glasses, dentures, and hearing aids.
In the event that they need to evacuate or move to another area of the house quickly, these factors may need to be considered:
Are all of these items (glasses, hearing aids, canes, walkers) nearby and easily accessible?
Do they need assistance from someone to get up out of bed or a chair? Or to walk with them?
Will they hear you if you have to call out for them to get up?
Again, these may be things to consider for a monthly surprise emergency drill.
Additionally, other items to consider include where important papers are stored. Are they easily accessible? Should they be stored somewhere else or at least copies made and stored offsite? What personal items such as photographs or other mementoes should be grabbed in an evacuation? Are there pets to assist with? Do they have carriers?
Lines of communication need to be considered well in advance of any emergency. Phone lines can go down completely or quickly become jammed in the event of an emergency. Internet service may or may not be disrupted. It may be impossible to call out, but calls can come in. Sometimes you can call out of the area, but not to a neighbor across the street. There may be no time to make any calls until hours later.
It is important for all families to designate an out-of-town relative to call in case of any emergency or disaster. In case you get separated or cannot contact friends and relatives nearby, there is someone that everyone will contact and eventually you'll find out where the others have gone.
If your parents or in-laws are in a facility, it's important for that facility to have the same emergency out-of-state contact person. In the event they have to evacuate the facility, having this information ensures someone will be notified eventually as to the whereabouts or status of your loved ones.
Hopefully you will never be faced with an emergency or natural-disaster situation, but being prepared will help keep everyone calmer and focused on what to do. The aftereffects will be minimized if you have planned for the most important issues.