Thursday, January 22, 2015

Preparing Disaster Preparedness Kits For Your Family

By Janine Hughes

Disasters like floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, fires and earthquakes, among others have the potential of changing your life instantly. Others like bomb attacks, terrorism and chemical poisoning are man made and may happen anytime. While younger family members may manage to survive on minimal provisions, the elderly are very vulnerable. Disaster preparedness kits for the elderly are therefore slightly different.

In order to provide for the needs of all members of your family, several measures must be put in place. Begin by identifying the threats that you are exposed to depending on your environment. When planning for escape, consider the medical requirements in an unconventional setting. Preparations for floods, earthquakes, hurricanes or tornadoes are not similar.

Safety does not begin and end with the emergency kit. The plans you make for your family must be synchronized with those of the community where you live. Identify the channels used to alert people on disasters. It could be social media, radio, television, etc. Check the comprehensive rescue plans at the community resource center and at a personal level, know how to spot approaching disaster.

Identify the routes you will use to escape from the house or area. Ensure that they are not related in terms of direction and terrain so that you have alternatives. Test your preparedness once or twice a year and ensure that it is efficient. For easy coordination, assign roles to each family member in case you need to escape. An assembly point should be identified away from the site so that you can escape as a team. If you live in a storied house, invest in a ladder that is easy to use.

Responding to disasters requires effective communication. Identify the best communication mode to notify all members and coordinate escape. The method chosen should be least reliant on established networks since they also might be damaged.

The items that go into the kit will determine your survival after escape. Non-perishable foods that would last several days must be included. Clean drinking water is mandatory as well as a first aid kit. Include a flash light with batteries and some warm clothing or blanket. Matchboxes should be packed in a waterproof wrapper.

Disasters are likely to displace you for a prolonged period of time. Photocopy identification documents alongside credit cards and other crucial documents. Include a whistle, a Swiss army knife and multipurpose tools. Pack some cash in notes and coins since financial systems might be affected. Special provisions like contact lens, medical prescription and batteries for hearing aids should go into the kit.

It is important to maintain your emergency kit if it is to serve its purpose. This includes replacing expired food items and ensuring that canned foods remain in a cool and dry place. Boxed food should be protected from invasion by pests and insects. Evaluate the content every year with the aim of updating depending on changing family size and needs.

Write an emergency health and contact card for each family member and pack it within the kit. The information to be written includes immunizations, medication, blood type, allergies and communication difficulties, if any. Clearly indicate the name of family members and where possible include a photo.

Learn basic first aid procedures like CPR and AED use for emergency assistance. Consider what the sick and elderly will require including wheelchairs, personal care items, blindness accessories and hearing aids. If you own a pet, plan for it effectively.

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