Disasters are what you hope to avoid; but especially if you are a senior or a frail adult, they are something you must plan for. While you can hardly anticipate that an event like Hurricane Sandy will flood your home or make it uninhabitable, power failures from all sorts of causes are common. No matter how brief they are, disasters can cause havoc for someone dependent on medical equipment with limited mobility, and with specialized needs for medication and home health care services in New York.
Your role during an emergency is to be safe and have a backup plan to help you acquire the help you need. Developing a plan is a worthwhile activity that will make you feel secure in case of disruption in your normal life.
Develop An Emergency Support Network
Even if you don’t have children or other relatives in town, contact a few people who know your personal needs and who you can count on to check on you in case of emergency, during a heat wave, or when they haven’t heard from you every few days. Once you prepare your plan for an emergency, make sure that someone in your network – even your home healthcare services provider – knows of your preparations and knows where to find your plan and any instructions you have.
Things To Have On Hand
- Keep a spare sets of keys and make them accessible to someone in your network. In New York City, doormen or building superintendents usually have keys, or will keep your keys in a safe area.
- Have copies of your important documents about prescriptions, dosage, medical insurance, other insurance, power of attorney, advanced directives, etc. Put the documents in one place that is labeled and easily accessible.
- Have a supply of flashlights and batteries, including batteries to power your devices. Check flashlights and batteries on a regular basis. Check websites for possible solar powered room lights.
- Keep a supply of nonperishable food on hand in case you can’t get to the store or your meal delivery service is not able to get through in an emergency. Rotate the food and check for expiration dates.
- If you have pets, make sure to keep a supply of pet food on hand and develop a backup plan for pet care in case you are hospitalized or away from home.
- Make sure to have an emergency supply of medications you take, plus have a plan in place with your doctor so you can access emergency prescription refills.
- Prepare an emergency “Go Bag” that you can take with you if you have to leave your home suddenly. The contents might include a notepad and pen, emergency health information card, emergency numbers, instructions with extra batteries for medical devices you use, an aerosol tire repair kit or inflator for your wheelchair, supplies for your service animal, basic toiletries, and items such as a Bible or other materials to comfort you in time of stress.
Lists To Make
- Make sure to have numbers available for police, fire, utility, home healthcare provider, and any organizations such as your church or community agencies that might help you.
- Prepare a list of important personal contacts to notify in case of emergency. If normal communication is disrupted, plan ahead for how you will contact family, friends, emergency workers and important people in your life.
- Keep a list of the name, model numbers, instructions and battery sizes for all medical devices you use. Make sure to note what a caregiver should do if the equipment stopped partway through the treatment. Also write any special instructions about temperature, cleaning, or maintenance of the equipment.
- Check with your home health care agency, dialysis provider, oxygen provider, and even the building office where you live to see what emergency plans they have in place for providing service in evacuating residents. If you are on certain medical equipment, you can qualify for priority power restoration by registering with your utility company.
Get Help To Prepare The Plan
For assistance in preparing your plan, the City of New York has a handy workbook called Ready New York: My Emergency Plan that is especially helpful for seniors and those with special needs. Just click here for a downloadable document or audio recording of the guide. You can also call 311 (TTY: 217-504-4115) or contact 311 online to receive an audio copy by mail.
If you already receive home healthcare services in New York from SelectCare, your home healthcare aide (aid) can help you get the information and supplies that you need assembled to prepare you for an emergency.
SelectCare’s field staff receive annual inservice education and training materials regarding emergency and disaster planning. Our nursing supervisors and service coordinators will assist you with your questions or concerns as you are developing your own personal plan. During emergencies and disasters, SelectCare administrators work with local authorities to ensure that all of our clients receive appropriate services throughout the emergency.
Interested in having home health aides on a permanent or temporary basis for a loved one? Contact us today for a complementary needs assessment by filling out our website form, or by calling us at 212-505-3640.