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Prepare Your Loved One Before Disaster Strikes

senior woman holding suitcase against background of devastation

Prepare Your Loved One Before Disaster Strikes


In later summer 2019, Hurricane Dorian’s landfall in the Bahamas tragically punctuated how important it is for families to have items and procedures in place for the unexpected. More than 2,500 people were reported missing and at least 50 were confirmed dead.

Taking extra care to prepare the most vulnerable among us – loved ones who can’t do it themselves –is critical, be it a catastrophic hurricane or the errant southern snow or ice storm. Below are a few things to key things to arrange –before they’re needed.

Write down important phone numbers

Record or update all the information of those you’ll need to contact in an emergency. Don’t rely on your smartphone or Internet cloud services; store more than one laminated hard copy in places like your purse, wallet, or a suitcase or emergency kit for easy access.

Checking in with family

Create a communication chain: If your loved one is at home alone, identify a primary person to call or make a well-check visit. This person will update the second person on the list, who will notify the third, and so on. If there is a break in the communication chain after a set amount of time, the last person to receive a call will take the lead and notify the next available person on the list. The chain continues until all are notified and you can account for everyone.

Know the closest evacuation site

If you do not live close to family, find out where first-responders will take your loved one. If there is a formal evacuation plan in your area, keep a copy of it with your contact list. Designate a meeting place for all family members.

Keep medications close

Stock a crisis kit for your loved one: Keep a week supply of critical medications, and a separate list of prescription names and dosages. For items that need refrigeration, use ice packs previously stored in the freezer. If you are required to evacuate, also attempt to take any medical devices, dentures, eyeglasses, hearing aids, etc. Include a list of their medical providers, active treatment plans, copies of their medical history, and insurance information.

Channel your inner Eagle Scout

Pack a disaster supply kit that includes water or filtration tablets, food, necessary utility supplies, maps, blankets, and a change of clothing. Keeping cash in a water-tight container is also a good idea.

To learn more about packing for a crisis as well as other national preparedness information visit the Centers for Disease Control website.

Host a prep party

Get the family together over a meal, or plan a short conference call, and delineate tasks for your crisis plan. Pre-planning for the unexpected can save lives and many precious minutes in a dire situation. For various planning templates, visit the Department of Homeland Security website.

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