AUBURN, Ala.—On any ordinary day, caregivers have many responsibilities caring for their patients. These responsibilities are amplified during emergency situations. As millions evacuate in Florida and Georgia, Alabama Extension professionals have some tips to share.
In emergency situations, caregivers may need to gather and prepare additional items to the standard emergency kit if they plan to shelter in place or are forced to evacuate a home.
Caregiver Emergency Kits
Here are some suggestions for caregivers to consider when assembling their kits:
- special equipment for feeding or respiration of patient
- special foods to meet dietary requirements
- equipment for personal care such as a shower bench
- regular medical treatments such as dialysis
- communication equipment such as adaptive hearing or sight devices
- backup for electricity-dependent equipment
- medicine or prescriptions for a minimum of 2 weeks
- mobility aids such as a wheelchair, walker or cane
- service animals and their food and care items
Evacuating is difficult under any circumstance. Evacuating someone who needs special care requires extra planning. The American Red Cross designates specific sites in each locale as special needs or medical needs shelters.
Special Needs Shelters
Special needs shelters have staff and basic medical supplies to provide ongoing care for people whose medical conditions require more care than the typical Red Cross shelter provides. Most special needs shelters require you to preregister.
To find out where your local special needs shelters are located, and to preregister, contact your city or county emergency management agency. Fore more detailed information, visit www.ready.gov/individuals-access-functional-needs.
Always take the service animal with you when evacuating. Ask the local sheltering authority if service animals are allowed at evacuation facilities. Many states designate shelters that allow animals. Other shelters may prohibit them.
Plan ahead for the supplies the service animal will need. The animal will need food, water, medications, and sanitary and other types of supplies. Some shelters require documentation that the animal is a service animal and that it is up to date on vaccinations.
The Alabama Cooperative Extension System has an iBook to help families, businesses and communities prepare for storms and clean up after they pass. The Emergency Handbook is a comprehensive resource for emergency planning, preparation and storm recovery. It is available as a free download from iBooks.
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