SENIORS AND EMERGENCIES
An emergency situation can be a frightening and confusing time for anyone. It is important that seniors know the steps they can take to be prepared for an emergency situation, such as an evacuation. This includes finding out about programs and services available in their community that will help them during an emergency and assist them to return to their regular routine.
Emergency Survival Kits for seniors
The Emergency Survival Kit Fact Sheet outlines the basic items every individual should keep in an easy-to-reach place. In addition to their basic Emergency Survival Kits, it is essential that senior citizens being evacuated during emergencies take with them any other equipment or devices they may need immediately.
Those items may include:
• Assistive devices such as canes, walkers, hearing aids, breathing apparatus, etc.
• Prescription eyewear and footwear
• Extra medications and vitamin supplements (including list allergies and all prescribed medications with required dosages)
• Extra dentures (if required) and cleaner
• Personal documentation; identification; and
• List of names and telephone numbers (such as family members, doctors, case worker, seniors’ group contact person, etc.).
Part of being prepared for an emergency involves developing an emergency plan. You should consider the following when developing your plan.
• Familiarize yourself with all escape routes and the location of emergency doors/exits in your home.
• If you live in a high-rise building, know the building’s evacuation plan, who conducts evacuation drills and how often, who are the floor monitors in the event of an emergency and the location of emergency buttons.
• Always wear your MedicAlert® identification (if applicable).
If you anticipate needing assistance during an emergency, talk to family members, friends and others to see if they can provide support.
You will also want to make sure that:
• You include your support network in the development of your plan so they will know where you will go in case of an emergency. Arrange for someone to check up on you.
• If you undergo routine treatments administered by a clinic or hospital or if you receive regular services such as home health care, treatment or transportation, talk to your service provider about their emergency plans. Work with them to identify back-up service providers and incorporate them into your personal support network.
• Someone in your local network has an extra key to your home and knows where your emergency survival kit is stored.
• You teach those who will help you how to use any necessary equipment and administer medicine in case of an emergency. Be sure they will be able to reach you.
• Practice your plan with those who have agreed to be part of your network.
Seniors in high-rise buildings
High-rise buildings present unique challenges when evacuating. Residents should make themselves aware of:
• Location of emergency buttons. Many seniors’ buildings have, strategically located in bedrooms and washrooms, emergency buttons which have a direct link to 911 or the building’s superintendent.
• The building superintendent’s phone number
• Who sits on the Building Safety Committee
• The names and phone numbers of on-site doctors, social workers and the hours they keep (if applicable). These people will likely be on call at various times throughout the week and will usually have an office in the building.
High-rise building managers can help those senior residents who may have difficulty evacuating on their own due to a physical impairment or disability, by:
• Maintaining an up-to-date list of names and addresses of all seniors in the building, noting the special needs and requirements of each, and copying that list to superintendents.
• Making available large printed signs for those requiring assistance to place in their window in the event of an emergency, indicating that they require assistance.
o Create a ‘buddy’ system with your neighbours and regularly practice your emergency response plan with them
o Any life sustaining equipment/apparatus, develop an emergency back-up plan that will ensure the equipment is operable in the event of a power outage