As we gather news of friends and loved ones in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, we can’t help but want to make sure we’re ready in the event of a similar emergency here in California. Aptly, National Preparedness Month (NPM) begins this Friday. It is a time when people across the United States are encouraged to plan ahead and train for the proper response during a disaster.
The month is broken into four themed weeks, and the NPM website has lots of tips on how to accomplish each goal:
September 1-9: Make a Plan for Yourself, Family and Friends
September 10-16: Plan to Help Your Neighbor and Community
September 17-23: Practice and Build Out Your Plans
September 24-30: Get Involved! Be a Part of Something Larger
In the most recent CALA News & Views, two Prestige Senior Living Executive Directors shared how they were able to work together to help evacuate residents during the Oroville Dam response in early 2017. They also shared some great tips for other providers looking to review their disaster preparedness plans—a great goal for Week 3 of National Preparedness Month:
Remember the importance of lists and checklists
- Have family members’ email and contact info
- Have a staff member roster and the resident roster
- Have nametags premade for all residents with information regarding diet and color coded for either Memory Care or Assisted Living
- Have time clock sheets and start tracking time from the onset of the process
Expect the unexpected and review your disaster plans for less obvious needs
- Be ready to cancel the food order for the building being evacuated and get food delivery at the sister community to accommodate extra residents and staff
- Have residents’ POLST, service plans, and MARs in binders that can easily be taken with residents
- Have an emergency kit for each resident always readily available
- Have contingency plans for transportation, evacuation location, etc.
Communication and support are key
- Don’t hesitate to reach out to local churches, service groups, vendors, and legislators for needed supplies
- Allow residents to be a part of the process as they like to help and have a sense of purpose
- Get a formalized schedule for all employees who have come to help out
- Provide daily newspapers during the situation so residents can stay well informed
- Discuss the situation with the residents, visitors, and families so everyone is aware
The article also featured tips from Ryan Arba with the California Office of Emergency Services (OES). Arba serves as the Branch Chief for the Earthquake, Tsunami, and Volcano Programs for OES and says if you’re looking for a way to practice an earthquake drill, consider signing your community up for the Great California ShakeOut. The ShakeOut is simple, yet effective: at 10:19 on October 19th, schools, organizations, and communities across the state will simultaneously participate in a one-minute “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” drill.
While the drill itself may be held on October 19th, you can use the time between NPM and the ShakeOut to get others involved. One great idea from the Great California ShakeOut website for senior communities is to hold a ShakeOut Block Party: ” Invite residents for coffee and share personal and family preparedness information and discuss what individuals and their families can do to ShakeOut. You can also exchange phone numbers, and create an of inventory special skills (search and rescue, first aid, equipment) and needs (elderly, children, pets, medication, etc.) in your community.” Visit the page for more ways to encourage others to get involved.
Finally, visit the Disaster Preparedness page on CALA’s website for more tips, links, and resources, all designed to help you prepare yourself and your community for what may come. If your community participates in National Preparedness Month or The Great California ShakeOut, let us know! Use the hashtags #NatlPrep and #PlanAhead to post about National Preparedness Month. Share your ShakeOut on the Earthquake Country Alliance’s Facebook or Twitter page. …and include CALA’s Facebook and Twitter pages as well. We hope all communities stay safe; but if there is an emergency, we hope that planning and preparation will help bring about the best possible outcome.