Tag Archives: emergency prep for caregivers

Caregivers Need Emergency Plans — Do you Have One?

Caregivers need emergency plans. Natural disasters have hit almost every part of the United States in recent months. Wildfires and mudslides on the West Coast… hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the Southern U.S…. blizzards in the Northeastern corridor… What’s in your emergency kit?

Caregivers need Emergency Plans

I live in a region that’s been smacked hard by dangerous snowstorms. Pennsylvania and New York are magnets for Nor’easters  —  there were four in March alone! Our house lost power for four days during the first March blizzard. When the electricity stops, our water supply also quits because it’s pumped up from an underground well. Problems like these have an even bigger impact on #caregivers because we’re often responsible for the safety of loved ones with poor mobility and complex medical needs. There’s a high number of #family_caregivers in my region. Many people move to the Poconos after they retire. Recent retirees often lack a social network to assist them in a crisis.

caregivers need emergency plans

Snow storms here can be brutal. It’s treacherous to drive out to buy food or medical supplies. The National Weather Service considers winter storms to be “deceptive killers” because most deaths and injuries don’t occur as a direct result of the storms. People are more likely to get hurt or killed in car accidents. Many also suffer from hypothermia if they lose heat for a long period of time. The Pennsylvania Emergency Guide urges families to develop an emergency plan to help everyone safely navigate through this type of crisis. If you’re a caregiver, it’s also important to plan an escape route from your home. You need a strategy to help loved ones in wheelchairs. They may not be able to push themselves to safety without your assistance.

How do you prepare for an Emergency?

Our house is located in the woods. There is only one way in or out. Together with a few neighbors, we pay someone to plow our lane so we can escape if necessary. Over the past year, someone in each neighboring household has been critically ill with cancer, blindness, or dementia. We check on each other to make sure each family has food, water, and some source of heat. None of us take the weather for granted. Even this morning — days after the official start of spring — I woke up to find another inch of new snow on my car. Winter just refuses to end.

I’m fed up with the snowstorms, but very grateful that our infrastructure hasn’t been destroyed as it was in Puerto Rico and other places. What types of challenges does your household need to prepare for? If you’d like a guide to help you do some emergency planning, click this link. Your state should also have a similar link to help you plan for the most common situations emergencies in your region. None of us can predict the future, but we can certainly try to be ready when it gets here.

Emergency Prep for Caregivers

Like a lot of caregivers, I spent most of yesterday doing #emergency prep. Some things had to be done advance, like stocking the bed pads and the adult wipes. I also did a lot of  cooking. But there are many tasks you can’t do until you’re in the middle of a crisis event like #Winter Storm Jonas.

Emergency Prep for Caregivers

Our original forecast called for 5-8 inches of snow. The weather man was wrong and in the end we got about 13 inches in our part of the Poconos. Though I’ve always tried to follow the guidelines for emergency prep, snow storms present a special challenge. So much of the situation is out of our control. Last week I filled the pantry and made sure we had my mom’s medical supplies. But we’re always in danger of losing power because we live in the woods. Heavy snow can break trees and damage the electrical lines. Once we lose power, we also lose water, because ours is pumped up from a deep well.

I need water to keep hands clean, wash dishes, and maintain sanitary conditions with someone who is incontinent. The last item is a big challenge if you don’t have running water. We have bottles of hand sanitizer and lots of wipes. But a faucet brimming with  hot water is hard to live without. I had to line the bathtub with large buckets and fill them all with water — just in case. Fortunately, we didn’t have to use them.

I’m also fortunate that we have good neighbors. Our house is in a remote place but the few people who live near us really help each other. One neighbor knocked on my door yesterday morning and said, “Meals on Wheels?” She brought us home made potato salad and a smile. Those smiles are worth a mint. After 24 hours of lifting my mom, clearing snow, and stoking the coal fire, I felt like a worn out wagon wheel. No aides could get to our house until this morning because our lane hadn’t been plowed.

Thank goodness the sun came out today. The snow looks a lot more friendly when those bright rays light it up. Many places got way more snow than we did and the safety challenges vary with geography. I hope all of you made it through the storm safely. Tell us your experience and please share if you have any good ideas about preparing for emergencies.