It’s that time of year when we think about the whereabouts of that new flashlight that we bought right before the last hurricane.
I usually place mine in a well-thought out location, but trying to find it or fresh batteries that fit that flashlight is another story altogether when a new hurricane is announced. Just as each of us needs to prepare for the possibility of natural disasters and weather-related events, those with special health needs must take additional steps to insure their health and well being.
You may not think of yourself as someone with special health needs, but can you live without the drug store being opened for more than few days?
If the answer is no, you may need to take some extra precautions. You may have a loved one or neighbor who needs help deciding what preparedness measures are needed and assisting them in carrying out these measures.
In determining if you or your loved one requires special health-needs preparedness, the following examples of impairments and special needs may be helpful:
• Mobility: may require special planning, assistance and equipment to leave home.
• Hearing: may need special arrangements to receive a warning.
• Visual: may require arrangements for transportation.
• Respiratory: may need a portable oxygen supply.
• Special dietary requirements: may need an adequate food supply.
• Medication needs and requirements: may need adequate supply of each medication.
If you or a loved one has an impairment or special health need, it may be necessary to have a primary caregiver who can assist them in not only planning but also carrying out an emergency plan. Having a “plan B” in place will give the individual and the primary caregiver a great deal of reassurance.
The primary caregiver would be aware of medical and physical needs are and be responsible for carrying out a plan in a timely fashion. An example may be an individual that needs assistance with walking and transportation, as well as activities of daily living. The checklist needs of this individual may include assistive medical equipment, adequate food and medications, personal items, transportation, shelter, pet care and assistance with daily care.
Making a “plan B” for their loved one is also important due to possible evacuation. Where they would go, what they would bring with them and who would provide transportation is an essential part of emergency planning.
An individual with special medical needs may need someone to stay with them at all times. The primary caregiver would need to make sure that there is an adequate, in-home supply of such items as batteries, flashlights, water, food, medications, equipment, etc.
Also essential is the “communication plan” as to who would be responsible to notify the loved one of a pending emergency and communicate with law enforcement officials and other emergency contacts.
Mahler is a registered nurse and clinical systems administrator for Georgia Living At Home.