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Elderly Special Needs Disaster Planning

Disaster planning is something that every person should be involved in. The thing that makes it difficult is that it is virtually impossible to make an effective disaster plan for every type of situation when you have no idea what is coming at you.

The problem is exacerbated when there are certain members of the community that cannot necessarily care for themselves who must be included in the disaster plan. Such is the case with elderly members of the community who have special needs. This may be because they are physically incapable of removing themselves from the situation or it may be due to the fact that they have dementia and they are no longer mentally capable of comprehending what is going on around them. In either case, it is up to other members of the community to ensure their overall safety.

  • ¬†One of the most popular ways to shelter large groups of people is to shelter them in place. Simply put, this means that individuals who are located in a large structure, such as a nursing home or an assisted living facility, should shelter by staying in the facility and not trying to avoid the disaster by moving to a different location. This is even the plan that is used for many facilities in the face of deadly tornadoes which are bearing down on their path. It is essentially the same method of protection that is used in schools and high-rise buildings throughout the country. However, it has its advantages and disadvantages. The advantage of sheltering in place is that it is often safer to shelter in a central location as opposed to trying to move to another area. Many more people are injured or killed trying to escape a disaster than to shelter in place and face it head on.

However, the one drawback to sheltering in place is that it is extremely difficult to ensure the survival of individuals who are located directly in the path of a large scale disaster. This other option is great for home health care patients.

  • The answer is to create a shelter that is as safe as possible and then allow people who cannot flee the disaster or fight for themselves shelter in that location. This includes using a building that has a basement which can be used in the event of tornadoes and similar disasters. The building should also have safety valves where gas lines can be quickly turned off and should have firewalls and fire doors built into the building in an effort to be able to contain any fire that breaks out to a separate part of the building.Finally, alternate forms of communication should be put in place long before the disaster ever occurs so that other people within the community can be made aware that a problem exists. This occurs by using social media, land lines and cell phones or pagers. Most of the time, it becomes a matter of using whichever of those choices is still functioning at the moment.

In closing, a disaster plan should be inclusive of ensuring that there is enough food and water and that necessary medical supplies are already on hand. Having a plan in place beforehand ensures that the plan can be carried out in its entirety as opposed to being left wondering what to do next. Caring for individuals with special needs means that extra medications and things specific to their particular situation must be on hand in advance. By doing so, it is possible to come through a disaster safely.