How to Create an Emergency Contact Plan

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In case of emergency, it’s essential for seniors and their loved ones to have a communication plan. According to FEMA, the most common reasons for evacuation are fires and floods, and older adults are 2.5 times more likely to die in fires than the general population. During the winter, power outages, especially those that involve loss of heat, can be a serious crisis as well.

A disaster communication plan helps seniors and their loved ones know what to do to stay safe and connected in case of emergency while enabling quick, potentially life-saving, action.

How a Disaster Communication Plan Works

The first step in any disaster communication plan is to designate an emergency contact who will check in on a senior.

  1. Senior and emergency contact person check in with each other
  2. Emergency contact coordinates with senior to evacuate them
  3. Loved ones and caregivers can check in with emergency contact about senior’s status
  4. Emergency contact keeps all parties updated
  5. When applicable, emergency contact helps senior return home
  6. Emergency contact verifies with all parties that senior may be contacted directly

Seniors should select a secondary emergency contact in case their primary isn’t available. Loved ones and caregivers should receive the emergency contact’s phone number, email address, and mailing address as well.

Role of an Emergency Contact

A senior’s emergency contact may be responsible for:

  • Keeping up with disaster status in a senior’s home region
  • Checking in on senior safety
  • Reminding a senior of their emergency plans
  • Coordinating the evacuation of a senior
  • Connecting with a senior’s loved ones to provide updates
  • Helping a senior coordinate their return home
  • Navigating health, insurance, and other needs during times of crisis
  • Letting loved ones know when a senior can be contacted independently again

In times of crisis, it is unsafe for seniors to navigate the opinions and plans of multiple parties. Verify with seniors and their loved ones that they understand why only one or two emergency contacts should be involved.

Keep emergency contact numbers in a disaster kit, wallet, and in/near the phone • Provide copies of emergency contact person’s information to loved ones and caregivers • Send copies of essential documents and information to emergency contact, e.g. insurance cards

How to Build an Emergency Kit

Besides common home hazards, seniors are also at an elevated risk when emergencies like fires, natural disasters, or power outages occur. This can be due to factors such as dulled senses and health conditions like memory loss or limited mobility. Build an emergency kit to protect seniors. Be sure to make the kit something seniors can grab and take with them quickly if necessary. Include:

  • Emergency numbers like poison control
  • Personal emergency contact numbers
  • A limited supply of essential medications
  • Copies of insurance/vital documents
  • Spare keys to the home, car, etc.
  • One basic outfit
  • Water or filtered water bottle
  • Keep emergency contact numbers in a disaster kit, wallet, and in/near the phone
  • Provide copies of emergency contact person’s information to loved ones and caregivers
  • Send copies of essential documents and information to emergency contact, e.g. insurance cards

It’s also wise to create a second, similar kit for loved ones to use in case a senior experiences an emergency. Close friends, family members, or caregivers should be told where to locate the kit. For older adults living in areas particularly prone to natural disasters, this second kit should be stored elsewhere, like with a family member.

Assisting Hands Home Care serving Columbus can be a reliable partner in times of crisis. When you have a regular caregiving schedule, our staff is another support you can call on for added local support, especially if family is far away from their senior loved one. Give us a call today.