On Day 9 of our Let’s Get Prepared! Challenge, we’re going to spend some time talking about the special ones in our lives: kids, elderly, special needs and pets! When we’re preparing for emergencies and any one of those are in the plan, we need to strategize a bit differently.
For many people, creating an emergency plan and thinking about options is straightforward. For some, however, the people in our family requires different levels of thinking, preparation and communication. The ones that come to mind are, children, elderly, people with special needs, and pets. In each case, there are considerations to be made, and this is an important part of planning. Let’s walk through some things to keep in mind and some resources to help.
With children, we need to focus not only on how to factor them into the plans and preparations they make, but also how to educate them about disasters and emergencies. There are a ton of great resources to share on this, targeting different ages.
- Preparing for kids
- Consider the stuff that your kids will NEED, from medicine/first aid to diapers or potty seats, any special food or formula they may require.
- Consider the stuff that your kids will WANT, from games to stuffed animals to books or favorite blankets. Less is more when you’re on the go, but the items which can help children feel safe are important.
- Resources for communication:
- Video set: “Disaster Dodgers“, where kids, tweens, and teens help to educate their peers
- Videos for Little kids: Sesame Street, featuring Rosita and Grover, on a lot of lessons, from learning your full name (and mom and dad’s names), to what goes in an emergency kit, learning who our helpers are, etc. They also have a checklist to get kids involved. They also have “Let’s Get Ready” apps for iOS and Android.
- A guide for adults on how to talk to kids about emergencies. Or check out this one.
- Red Cross App for 7-11 year olds.
- Games for kids:
With elderly in your home or family or neighbors nearby, we may have similar concerns as we’d have for children or for those with special needs — thinking about medication, transportation, and mobility, etc. We may also deal with events that might not be an emergency for everyone but impact elderly more significantly, like extreme heat or extreme cold, or pandemics, which may impact older people sooner than others.
- Preparations: Think through medication or equipment needed for mobility or health care that need to go along in an evacuation. Talk to the doctor about how to get an emergency supply of medications to have on hand, and to the pharmacist about how to store and how long to keep the medications. Have some cold packs or coolers available for refrigerated medication.
- Evacuation: Having a plan in place for evacuation that considers where you may need to go is important. Check with the town or county emergency management offices to see if there are specific shelters or transportation available for senior citizens.
- Communication: Think about any hearing or vision impairments that could impact a senior citizen when awaiting instruction, sheltering in place, or evacuating. Also consider what update devices will be used if the person does not have a smart phone or access to the internet, but other systems like cable television are not functioning. Invest in a battery operated or hand-crank radio that can help stay connected.
Special needs can present challenges in different ways. There may be challenges in moving or mobility, effectively communicating with others, medical or physical support requirements, needs for access to electricity or refrigeration, etc. Your risks related to sheltering-in-place or evacuation (proactive or via rescue) may need very specific considerations and plans. Connect with your local police and fire department for specific recommendation to your area.
- Equipment – do you need to have access to electricity?
- Medication -Talk to the doctor about how to get an emergency supply of medications to have on hand, and to the pharmacist about how to store and how long to keep the medications. Have some cold packs or coolers available for refrigerated medication. Bring copies of prescriptions.
- Information – lists of all medical conditions, doctors contact information
- Transportation needs – if special transportation is required to travel in an evacuation, is this something that needs to be arranged in advance through county registration.
Remember, it isn’t safe for your pets if it isn’t safe for you. Consider that any shelter-in-place or evacuation plan needs to consider the pets in your home, too.
- Evacuation: Pack to bring food, water, any medications, immunization records, leash/collar, and a current (printed) photo of your pet, in case you are separated. Other preparations could include a cat litter box and litter, crates or carrying cases. if you evacuate — will you be able to go to a place that is pet-friendly? Check out Petswelcome.com or Bringfido.com to find destinations.
- Shelter-in-place: Considering walling off dangerous areas, discouraging exploration in unsafe parts of the home.
- Not home with your pets when an emergency occurs? Be sure to have the names and contact numbers of trusted friends with you on your Communication Plan who can help rescue or look in on your pets until you are reunited.
- Check out Ready.gov for more helpful hints.
Consider your special people (or pets) and focus on their specific needs for prep or for communication. Begin conversations with those in your household or family about what may be unique to their situations.
Break out the special considerations for each, and if they involve research (with the doctor, the pharmacist, the county, etc.) schedule those calls and conversations, and follow-up with the appropriate actions.
Join in the conversation over at the Clever Girl Organizing Challenge Facebook Group to learn from and to teach others as we all take on the Let’s Get Prepared! Challenge!
Reminder: Our goal here is to take steps towards improvement. The content in these posts is designed to inspire thinking, not fear.