Emergency Preparedness Week – May 3-9, 2009

72 hours…Is your family prepared?

A major emergency – like a blackout or severe storm – can happen anytime, anywhere. Emergency Preparedness Week is an important reminder of the need to take action by knowing the risks, making a plan and getting an emergency kit. This will help make sure you and your family can take care of yourselves for at least the first 72 hours of an emergency, while first responders help those in urgent need.

•Know the risks – Although the consequences of disasters can be similar, (ie: you might lose power, drinking water might not be available, etc) knowing the risks specific to your community and your region can help you better prepare.

•Make a plan – Every Canadian household needs an emergency plan. It will help you and your family know what to do if disaster strikes. Practice what to do in different emergency situations, and decide where your family would reunite if an emergency strikes.

•Get a kit – An emergency kit should contain food, water, radio, flashlight, batteries, and other essentials to help ensure you and your family are ready to cope on your own for at least 72 hours of an emergency.

Emergency Preparedness Week is a national campaign coordinated by Public Safety Canada, together with all provinces and territories. First responders (such as police officers, fire fighters and paramedics), non-governmental organizations and the private sector all plan activities for EP Week.

Visit GetPrepared.ca to find out how you can prepare for emergencies and for a complete list of emergency kit items. By getting prepared now, we can all make our homes and our communities a safer place to live.

Seniors with a Disability /Special Needs

Since an emergency situation or an evacuation can be a frightening and confusing time, it is important that seniors, especially those with special needs, know the steps to take in an emergency. You can check with your local municipal office to find out about programs and services available in your community that will help your during an emergency and once the emergency’s over, assist you in returning to your daily routine. The following suggestions will also help you develop an emergency plan and kit suited to your needs.

Your Emergency Plan (Seniors with a Disability /Special Needs)

• Create an emergency contact list with names and telephone numbers of your personal support network, physicians, case worker, contact for your seniors group, neighbours, building superintendent, and at your place of residence (if applicable), including the hours they keep.

• Keep a copy of this list in your emergency kit and with you.

• Familiarize yourself with all escape routes and the location of emergency doors/exits in your home.

• If you have a pet, create an emergency plan for them as well (determine who will take care of your animal in case of emergency).

• Request a panic push-button to be installed in the building you work and/or live in, so that in the event of an emergency you can notify others of your whereabouts and that you need special assistance.

Additional Suggested Items to Add in Your Emergency Kit

• Supply of food items appropriate to your disability or dietary restrictions.

• Assistive devices needed such as canes, walkers, lightweight manual wheelchair, hearing aids, breathing apparatus, blood glucose monitoring device, etc.

• Prescription eyewear and footwear (if required).

• Extra supply of medications and vitamin supplements.

• Personal disability-related list of all your needed medical supplies and special equipment.

• Copies of all medication prescriptions.

• Extra dentures (if required) and cleaner.

• Latex-free gloves (to give to anyone providing personal care to you).

• Any other contingency supplies unique to your special needs.

If You Are Assisting a Senior with a Disability/Special Needs

• Check on neighbours who are seniors with special needs to find out if they need your help during an emergency or evacuation.

• Allow the person to describe what help they need and how it can be provided.

• Be patient, listen actively.

•Know the location of emergency buttons. (Many seniors’ buildings have emergency buttons located in bedrooms and washrooms that have a direct link to 911 or the building’s superintendent.)

During an emergency:

•If the person appears anxious or agitated, speak calmly and provide assurance that you are there to help.

• If evacuation is necessary, offer a ride to seniors who do not have access to a vehicle.

• If time permits, offer to carry the person’s emergency kit to your car, along with any equipment or assistive devices they will need.

• Follow instructions posted on special needs equipment and/or assistive devices.

• Refrain from shouting or speaking unnaturally slowly.