November is National Caregivers Month: Is Your Loved One Ready for an Emergency?

Hurricane Matthew is a reminder to help those in need prepare for the unexpected

ready-kit-cmykIn light of the recent storms that impacted and displaced many residents across the Georgia coast, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security (GEMA/HS) reminds caregivers about the importance of helping family members and friends with unique needs prepare for emergencies. Family Caregivers Month – celebrated each November – is a time for people receiving care to say thank you, but it’s also a great time for caregivers to assess whether they have a plan in place to help their loved ones should a disaster strike.

According to a 2016 study from GEMA’s Ready Georgia campaign, 19 percent of households report having someone with functional needs – but only 62 percent indicated that they had medical supplies on hand, while only 50 percent report having emergency resources available. Caring for a loved one means contributing to their well-being year round by making sure they have all of their needs taken care of prior to the unexpected.

GEMA understands that caregivers are best positioned to ensure continuity of care for an elderly or disabled loved one with a chronic condition or disability. This is due to their familiarity with their care recipients’ medication regimen, treatment needs and dietary requirements.

Ready Georgia offers the below information for caregivers to ensure their family members and friends are prepared.

Prepare a Ready kit and be informed about the potential of disasters

  • Create a Ready kit of basic emergency supplies, such as a three-day supply of non-perishable food and water, a weather radio, a flashlight and batteries, first-aid supplies and a whistle to signal for help.
  • Have at least a one-week supply of extra medications, and keep a copy of prescriptions with dosage or treatment information in the Ready kit.
  • Keep extra eyeglasses, hearing aids, a wheelchair, oxygen or extra equipment on-hand.
  • Make copies of important documents such as insurance information, family records, medical records, wills, deeds, social security number, bank account information and tax records.
  • If loved ones have a communication disability, make sure emergency information notes the best way to communicate with them.
  • If those you care for receive Social Security or other federal disability benefit payments, help them register their bank account information in advance with the U.S. Department of the Treasury online at GoDirect.org so they can continue to access their money during an emergency.
  • Be informed about potential threats by monitoring the news, NOAA weather radio or Ready Georgia app and be prepared to act accordingly.

Make a Plan for What You Will Do in an Emergency

  • Create an emergency plan and share each aspect of it with a friend or relative in another area who would not be impacted by the same emergency.
  • For every aspect of daily routines, plan an alternative procedure and write it down.
  • Come up with a support network of friends and family who might be available to assist you in caring for another person during a disaster. Talk to these people and ask them to be part of your personal support network.
  • Create a list of contact information and phone numbers so you and your loved one will know how to connect with your support network during a disaster.
  • Create an evacuation plan from your loved one’s home or workplace and decide where you will go in case of a disaster.
  • Practice your plan with those who have agreed to be part of your personal support network.

Following these simple steps can help caregivers feel confident about the safety of their loved ones should an emergency occur. For more information about general emergency preparedness, visit ready.ga.gov or contact your local emergency management agency. For preparedness on the go, download Ready Georgia’s free mobile app. For additional updates, follow GEMA on Twitter and like Ready Georgia on Facebook.