August 24, 2012

Now is an excellent time to prepare for a hurricane with tropical storm Isaac bearing down on Florida and possibly the Gulf Coast.   Although San Antonio is inland, hurricanes coming ashore along the Texas coast can spawn tornados, high winds and flooding.  The elderly are considered a high risk population because of the additional challenges they face when self-evacuating due to an emergency such as flooding or prolonged power outages.

If you have challenges evacuating during an emergency one thing you can do is register with the special needs registry by calling 211 and selecting option 4.  The 211 registry is managed by the Texas Department of Emergency Management.  This is probably best for someone that is totally geographically isolated with no local friends or family.  If and when the state is able to evacuate you,  the special needs shelter will likely be very austere and not very well prepared to meet the needs of people with special requirements for the first few days.  This should be considered a place of last refuge.  If you have a caregiver, the caregiver may accompany you to the shelter, but other family and friends will need to go to a regular shelter.

Some things elderly shelterees should know:

1.  You and your caregiver will be provided floor space.   You will need to provide your own bedding.
2. Service dogs are permitted but other pets may not be allowed.
3. Bring enough food, water and snacks for 72 hours.  It is possible only minimal meals will be available the first few days.
4. Caregivers will not be provided, your regular caregiver will need to continue in that capacity.

Some things to bring to a shelter:

1. Bedding such as blankets, pillows, air mattress and folding chair.
2. Medications and oxygen for a week along with administration instructions. 
3. Medical related documents such as Advanced Directives and Do Not Resuscitate forms.
4. Contact information for your home care agency, doctors, pharmacy, etc.
5. Identification.
6. A week of non-perishable foods and a gallon of water per person per day.
7. Glasses, hearing aides, prosthetics, assistive devices and spare batteries.
8. A week’s worth of clothes.
9. Flashlight and batteries.
10. Small amount of cash.
11. Self-entertainment and recreational items such as books, magazines and quiet games.

My next blog will cover ways to be prepared if you are evacuating or sheltering in place.