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article imageExpert: Prepare Elderly and Disabled for Any Disasters in 2009

By Carol Forsloff     Jun 11, 2009 in Lifestyle
The hurricane season is beginning, and experts say to be prepared. They stress that the elderly and disabled should be especially prepared because crises impact them greatly. A lesson from Hurricane Katrina means having a plan in place now.
Dr. Jeff Kalina, Director of Emergency Medicine with the Methodist Hospital in Houston, declares it is important to know what to do before an emergency rather than in the middle of it. He accents the need to care for those who can’t care for themselves and to organize information and a plan so that there are no delays. In addition he gives specific recommendations.
Given the fact the hurricane season brought devastation to Galveston last year, those who live in coastal areas must be especially watchful, experts say. A number of organizations and websites have lists of recommendations to help people make plans for emergencies and disasters, that can be helpful.
In 2005 I was a Red Cross volunteer at a shelter in Natchitoches, Louisiana. I observed many people came unprepared to Natchitoches. Some lack medications and simple comfort items, so churches and individuals in the community helped provide them. I was particularly concerned with the fact there were people with physical and mental handicaps who didn't have proper medication and other resources. Dr. Kalina emphasizes the importance particularly of these individuals receiving attention before an emergency so that they are not left helpless later. As someone who has been on the front lines of helping, I observed how essential it is, as Dr. Kalina says, to have that plan in place for crisis.
So given these issues what does Dr. Kalina recommend?. He says one of the most important things to do is to have extra refills of medications on hand. Drugstores may not always be available for close to during emergencies. It's also important for individuals to keep lists other medical problems and the medications you're taking. This is part of that plan coming advises people should have. Furthermore he emphasizes that in travel deals and we should ride in the front rather than in the back where they are exposed to heat that can cause additional fiscal problems. Furthermore during long drives, even during traffic stalls, give folks an opportunity to stretch their legs and walk if they can. Long periods of being sedentary can lead to other problems.
Hurricane Katrina
Water covers Water Street with the CSX Railroad building in the background in downtown Mobile, Ala., as Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast
Photo by au_tiger01
Dr. Kalina goes on to say that folks should have a plan to physically assist the elderly and those with disabilities during emergencies like Hurricane Katrina, including who will be responsible for driving and picking up the person in need. Anyone who has mobility problems and stairs at a house where there may be problems with transport, should have a portable ramp available. Comfort items are also important, not just essentials like battery-operated radios and flashlights.
Jeff Kalina also maintains it's important to have plenty of water on hand because the of the risk of dehydration and heat exhaustion.
FEMA has specific information for folks available on the agency website to help people make advance plans. In addition to Kalina’s recommendations, the federal agency recommends arranging for meeting places, turning off utilities, and making sure there is enough gas in the car to get somewhere safe.
Hurricane season begins during the month of June and extends until November. Those who live in critical areas, especially in the city of New Orleans and the coastlines, may find special problems in the event storms are particularly strong.
As an advance warning, experts found the levees surrounding New Orleans are insufficient to protect the city from a severe storm again. The Army Corps of Engineers has said the additional strengthening of the levees, particularly after the events of 2005, would not be completed until 2011. Even so experts say the level of planning and preparation at the present time is not enough to protect the city from special storm risk. A plan in place, especially for the elderly and the disabled, can help prevent the kind of problems that happened during Hurricane Katrina, according to experts.
Federal officials, physicians and emergency personnel declare it's best to be prepared early especially if you have people who are physically or mentally challenged and in need of special help. So this is the time to put a plan in place.
More about Hurricane Katrina, New orleans, Disasters
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