More than 25% of Gila County residents are over age 65, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. So odds are that you have an older relative or neighbor you may need to help. Many seniors have medical conditions or handicaps — or simply a more difficult time hearing or understanding — so a disaster or adverse weather issue could be even more hazardous.
You can help the seniors you care about by working with them to develop their own action plan. Use these four easy steps.
- Create a Ready Kit — Download our Ready Kit template, then add any special items you need. This can include medications, extra hearing aid or wheelchair batteries, canes or walkers, adult diapers, catheters, sterile needles, ointments, and other items. If you have a medication that needs to be refrigerated, include a cold bag and an instant cold pack, which can be purchased at your local Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, or drug store. If you use a service animal, make sure your Ready Kit includes dog food, a water bowl, and extra water.
- Build a support network — Make a list of a minimum of three people who can help you in the event of an emergency. Contact these people and ensure their willingness. Discuss your needs and make sure everyone in your support network knows how to reach you, enter your home, and operate any necessary medical equipment. Make arrangements for your support network to check on you during an alert or issue. Ensure your trusted contacts have house keys and garage codes, as well as access to your Ready Kit and emergency supplies. Determine best ways to contact your network. Have provisions that plan for landline phones or other key communications systems being out.
- Make a list of your key health data and needs — Create a list of your health conditions, medications, medical alerts, and insurance information, and include a copy in your Ready Kit and store it on your mobile phone. Discuss this list ahead of time with your emergency contacts. Wear any medical tags or bracelets to alert rescue personnel of any medical conditions.
- Develop an evacuation plan — Decide on the best way to evacuate your home if a hazardous scenario calls for it. If you need assistance to leave, make sure your support network knows and can operate any wheelchairs or other needed medical devices. Provide a copy of your evacuation plan to them and keep a copy where you can easily access it during an emergency.
Several services exist to support seniors in the event of an emergency or medical issue. These include Lifeline, MedicalAlert, Lifestation, and many others. Gila County encourages residents considering these services to conduct their own due diligence on costs, services, reliability, and customer reviews.
For additional resources on emergency planning for seniors, visit: