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Preparing for emergencies. Do you have a plan?

Two separate incidents led me to focus on preparing for an emergency this week. The first was hearing the story of a friend who ended up in hospital quite unexpectedly and had to arrange for things to be taken care of at home. The other was the potential for a snow storm. With some pre-planning, both situations could be managed with less stress, but where to start?

Our local county, Fairfax, has an Office of Emergency Management, so I contacted them to collect some printed material to share with my friends in the Parkinson community. They gave me lots of packets with good information to distribute, and you can find much of it on their website – click here.

I also picked up a brochure by FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, with a checklist for people with mobility problems. Here’s a similar checklist that I found on their website – click here.

While I was looking at all this information in front of me I was still wondering, where to start? I can understand why this information is gathered and then so easily collects dust somewhere. Two questions came to mind:

  1. If I had to leave the house RIGHT NOW, what would I need to take with me and what would I want to take with me.
    • By need, I’m thinking of important documents like ID and health insurance, as well as emergency contact information, list of prescription medications and the medications including glasses and hearing aids.
    • By want, I’m thinking of personal items for comfort or because they’re sentimental.
  2. Do I know where these things are?

After looking at all the information I gathered, I decided that the next thing to do is divide up the questions and checklists into workable segments and work my way through each of them:

  • What are the most common emergencies we might need to deal with?
    • Unexpected visit to the hospital, loss of power, stranded in the home due to the weather.
    • How will we know in advance? (If you’re in Fairfax county, check out their alert system http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/alerts/)
    • Is special assistance required?
  • Create plans for each type of emergency
    • In the event of a disaster, where will you go? How will you get there? Who will help you?
    • Share your plans with the people you rely on to help you.
  • Organize documents and keep them updated
    • Emergency contact numbers
    • family, financial, health and property information
  • Emergency supply kits – one for home, another for vehicle
    • Check regularly that the equipment you may need to rely on is in working condition.

Planning for emergencies can seem like a lot of work and an easy thing to put off, but it’s a sure bet that you’ll appreciate having a few less things to worry about when you’re dealing with a crisis.

Have you already been through this planning process? How did you work your way through it? And did you ever have to put it into practice?

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