November 6th-12th is National Senior Safety Week in Canada! While there are plenty of different topics to discuss, we’d like to look at a few general, but very important safety tips for seniors. Past disasters have shown that seniors are a vulnerable group during disasters, with greater risk of illness and death than most others. Whether you are a senior yourself or caring for one, preparedness is the best policy!
Build a Kit: An emergency kit is especially important for seniors, as they often require medical equipment and supplies in addition to basic items like food and water. If you use medical devices such as a hearing aid or other important device, try and store them near your bed in an emergency kit. If for example, there is an earthquake, you can quickly grab your emergency kit and exit the building without scrambling to find your necessary medical equipment. Remember to pack important supplies like prescription medications (enough to last a week), insulin pumps, oxygen tanks, and extra batteries, and that mobility aids are easily accessible. Creating a comprehensive emergency kit is a huge factor that could end up saving your life with the proper medical equipment and prescriptions.
Response Plan: Do you know where your escape routes are located and how to get to them safely? It’s important for you to understand what the process is if something serious or unexpected happens. If you live in a nursing home or a seniors living center, go over evacuation and emergency plans with staff members, and ensure these plans are communicated back to your loved ones as well. If you live by yourself or with your family, make sure your evacuation route considers accessibility issues, and that you have multiple routes out of your home. By taking the time to prepare beforehand, you are increasing your level of safety in a real emergency.
Support System: Whether your support system is large or small, it is crucial to have important phone numbers and emergency contact information accessible at all times. Keep in mind however, that in a large-scale emergency, phone lines may not be working, and that you may need to use other communication tools, such as email or text, to get through to loved ones. The ePACT system can certainly help you to store this important information and connect in a crisis. If your parent lives in a care home and you share their emergency information via ePACT, you can rest assured that the nurses and aids will have anytime, anywhere access to critical medical details, while also having the communication tools they need to reach you. Similarly, if you’re a senior wanting to get in touch with loves ones, you can use ePACT to communicate with your family and friends in an emergency even if phone lines are down.
Be Aware and Share! While emergencies can be incredibly serious, not everyone views them as such. The best way to help your friends and family is to spread the word. Educating yourself on risks in your area, and taking action to best prepare yourself for any magnitude of emergency is potentially life-saving, and it’s important to share that information and those tips with fellow residents at a home, or any loved ones you have. Work on plans together and create a buddy system so you know that in an emergency, you have someone to contact.
At any age, preparedness is essential to deal with any emergency, big or small. It’s easier to stay calm in a situation when you know what to do, while being able to react and evacuate more quickly. Seniors are an integral part of each community and everyone’s safety is of the utmost importance. Senior safety week is a great opportunity to start the conversation on important safety issues, and to encourage the seniors in your life to ask for help. We hope you’ll make the most of Senior Safety Week, and be sure to tweet us any questions @epactnetwork!
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