Disaster Planning - Prepare for the Unexpected

For information, contact:
Daniel S. Fox, President
Right At Home of the Desert
71780 San Jacinto Drive
Suite F3
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270

 Preparing for the Unexpected:

A Plan to Ensure Seniors are Safe in Emergency Situations



Dan Fox, Owner Right at Home of The Desert


Roughly 13 million people age 50 and older say they will need help evacuating in a natural disaster and about half of these individuals will require help from someone outside of their household.[1]  As these startling statistics indicate, it is never too early to put an emergency disaster plan in place for older or disabled family members or friends.   Whether for a temporary power outage or a destructive earthquake, Right at Home, a local provider of in-home supportive and personal care, encourages three steps to prepare for any emergency situation.    

 Develop a Plan

Developing a plan is the first step in ensuring the safety of seniors during an unexpected crisis and should consider all types of emergency situations including power outages, floods, terrorist attacks and natural disasters.  The plan, which should include input from the senior and multiple family members, should detail who will be a part of the support network including family, friends and neighbors. 


Keep in mind the elderly or disabled individual’s specific needs and health issues in order to properly execute the plan and to provide suitable resources.  Additionally, the plan should clearly convey how the individual should get help in a disaster situation; whether help comes to them or if they should go to a designated safe haven such as a shelter or hospital.  Once a plan is prepared, family members should make sure everyone in the support network is informed and aware of the process in place.  Families should run through all scenarios, and if needed, a contingency plan can be drafted. 


Basic Supplies: Your Emergency Kit

After developing a plan and support network, families should take the basic and special needs of the individual into consideration.  Basic emergency supplies should always be kept accessible such as water, food, batteries, flashlights, radio, and first aid kits.  In addition, a minimum of three days worth of extra medications should be kept on hand as well as medical equipment ranging from oxygen tanks to eye glasses and hearing aids.  Be sure to have battery powered back-up for any special medical equipment that requires it. 

 The kit should include a list of contacts; telephone numbers for family, friends, neighbors, medical professionals and caregivers so the senior and tending family member or friend can reach them. 

 Important Information

As these situations can turn frantic, those in the support network should have access to a key to the person’s home and the supplies should be easily accessible within the home.  When in an emergency situation with an older individual or someone with special needs, it is important to keep medical records available.  These records should include a list of medications taken on a daily basis.  Also, be sure to include any other special instructions or needs.  Those in the support network should know where to go to get access to important documents and records, such as medical history, allergies, insurance forms, medical providers and other financial documents. 

 Plan Today, Prepare for Tomorrow

In a recent Harris Poll, only one-quarter of those polled said they have put together a disaster supplies kit with water, food, medicine, and other supplies.[2]  This statistic indicates many do not plan ahead and would not be properly prepared in the case of an emergency.  All families, and especially those with seniors or individuals who require special assistance, need to plan today for tomorrow.  With a plan in place, including a support network and the appropriate supplies and information, families can be as prepared as possible for the unexpected.  For more information, visit the American Red Cross website at http://www.redcross.org/services/disaster/  for complete information on disaster preparedness for seniors and others. 

 About Right at Home®
Founded in 1995, Right at Home offers in-home companion and personal care and assistance to seniors and disabled adults who want to continue to live independently.  Right at Home directly employs all care-giving staff, each of whom are thoroughly screened, trained, bonded and insured prior to entering a client's home. Right At Home of the Desert is one of more than 175 franchise locations across the U.S. For more information, contact Dan Fox or Elaine Fox at 760-340-1919, or visit http://www.desert.rightathome.net To sign up for Right at Home’s free adult caregiving eNewsletter, Caring Right at Home, please go to www.caringnews.com 

About the Author
Daniel Fox is the president/owner of Right at Home, a national franchise specializing in non-medical in-home care for seniors and adults with disabilities.  The Right At Home Office is located in Rancho Mirage and is a CAHSAH Certified Home Care Aide Organization. Daniel has experience in the staffing industry and the homecare field and has earned a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from Fairleigh Dickinson University.  He is active in various civic groups and industry associations the goals of which are to improve healthcare and services for seniors in the Coachella Valley


[1] Harris Interactive Survey conducted for AARP, 2006

[2]  The Harris Poll, “Majorities Say They Are Prepared for Certain Unexpected Events, But Less than Half Have Actually Done Certain Preparedness Actions,” June 12, 2007. 

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