Tag: Lost Pet

Emergency Planning for Seniors



Lost Pet Flyer

Have a flyer ready before the emergency!

When it comes to emergency planning for seniors, the basics really aren’t that different. After all, I am a senior myself and I don’t consider myself so different!

But . . . there are some issues that we face in our community-of-a-certain-age. This week, when I received info about a program being sponsored by one of the Northern California CERT groups, it caught my “senior” eye.

Interested residents of Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda are invited to a special meeting sponsored by the Lamorinda CERT: “Bring Your Stuff Workshop”

The agenda is very comprehensive. CERT members will be checking on 25 different emergency planning items for workshop participants. You may want the whole list, but for today, here are . . .

Three important issues that apply particularly to emergency planning for seniors.

Could any or all of these could be the subject for YOUR next workshop?

  1. Getting an emergency alert in a timely fashion – including at night.
  2. Having copies of important documents in case you need to evacuate.
  3. Having a Lost Pet Flyer as part of your pet’s survival kit.

Let’s take a look.

1-Alerts are especially important for emergency planning for seniors.

Some of our neighbors are pretty anti-social. They actually have turned off the phone service here in our community that is aimed at promoting various social events, announcing utility turn-offs, etc.

Some of our neighbors are hard of hearing and when they take out their hearing aids at night, they are unable to wake for a phone call or even for police pounding on the door!

(There are special alert phones for people with hearing difficulties. These phones have loud alarms; some vibrate and blink. The best ones can be programmed to suit the kinds of weather disasters you could expect (tornado, for example), and to turn off those that don’t apply (flooding). And some of them allow for an extra strong strobe light to be attached. See research report at the end of the Advisory.)

Even when they hear the alert, seniors may need more time to get organized — so it’s important that we find out about danger right away!

Now, most people DO have cell phones. So the Lamorinda group is planning to individually help all their workshop participants:

  • Sign up for their local community warning system and/or any regional alert systems.
  • Add ICE (In Case of Emergency) contact information to their phones – including local non-emergency numbers.
  • Make sure the people know how to get to the ICE numbers in an emergency!

2-Emergency planning for seniors needs to include getting copies of important documents!

This is a tough one for elderly people. First, the older you are, the more saved documents you may have. Some are irreplaceable because they were generated before the era of computer data bases. Many of the documents are odd sizes, faded, etc. making a commercial copying job expensive. Second, very few of my senior neighbors have scanning capabilities at home. Third, there’s the issue of privacy.

(A year or so ago we considered putting out a call to neighbors offering to scan their documents, but then we withdrew the offer, not being able to guarantee security.)

The Lamorinda group, which is holding its meeting at the local library and putting it on in conjunction with the police department, will be doing the scanning “in a secure environment with law enforcement present to eliminate privacy fears.”

They will also have thumb drives for sale so people can carry their documents home with them with the matching thumb drive tucked right into a purse or pocket!

3-Seniors who are pet owners need to have the proper ID and protections for their pet.

At nearly every meeting of our neighborhood group we discuss emergency planning for pets. For example, at our recent “show and tell” meeting we were able to compare a couple of different pet carriers, we discussed the importance of the right pet food (and what happens when a pet eats strange food), and, of course, we talked about leashes, collars (including glow-in-the-dark collars), and identifying a lost pet via an embedded microchip.

(Please note: microchips do NOT have GPS and are not designed to track your lost pet. The microchip has a registration number and a phone number of the registry for that particular brand of chip. A person with a handheld scanner (the vet) can read the chip and find the owner.)

At the Lamorinda meeting, pet owners will be helped to create a custom Lost Pet Poster to help save time in an emergency. The images at the top of this Advisory are examples of free templates.

You could consider having the basic flyer already prepared, with photo, name, etc., and then, as necessary, fill in the appropriate emergency phone number.

In any case, if everyone has to evacuate, you cannot assume that your local copy shop or your friendly computer whiz neighbor will be available to design and run out copies  for you!

I’m always on the lookout for meeting ideas, and I think all three of these are excellent. I will be checking in with my friend at Lamorinda CERT to see how their meeting actually goes, and and I’ll let you all know.  In the meanwhile, perhaps you could start planning on a similar meeting for YOUR group. (And if you want the full agenda from Lamorinda please let me know.)

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

Extra: Research Report on Emergency Alert Equipment for People Who are Hard of Hearing

Special alarms for hard of hearing: Three years ago our community participated with the local fire department to have over 400 smoke alarms installed. During that event I became aware of the challenges that some neighbors had in being able to hear the alarms, particularly at night. Ultimately we were able to get a couple of special smoke alarms installed that activated blinking lights and made the whole bed vibrate.

This week, as I followed up on the Bring Your Stuff Workshop, I checked again for emergency alerts. What’s available is essentially the same sort of technology as we found with the smoke alarms: louder alarms, strobe lights and vibrators. When it comes to emergency alerts, however, these “extras” are connected to a special NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Weather Alert radio

NOAA radios at the center. Unlike a regular AM/FM radio, weather alert radios sound an alarm even if the radio is in standby mode. NOAA weather alert radios with S.A.M.E. (Specific Area Message Encoding) technology allow you to enter local county codes and eliminate alerts that are not within your programmed Specific Area.

Weather Alert radios are available costing anywhere from $30 to $100 dollars. We have reviewed several of them on our Best Emergency Radios page.

We have bought Midland. When it comes to radios with more options for readability and hearability, we have chosen Midland for closer examination. We use Midland handheld radios in our neighborhood emergency response group and have found that although the models are frequently upgraded, the quality is consistently reliable.

Below is the latest Weather Alert radio from Midland. (Model 400) Notice the three color-coded alert levels: advisory (yellow), watch (orange) and warning (red). And the written alert TORNADO WARNING is big enough to read easily. You can program the radio for up to 25 counties, and it will announce alerts for 80 different weather hazards and emergencies including Biological Hazard Warnings, Fire Warnings and even Child Abduction Emergencies (Amber Alerts). This model has a USB port that allows you to charge devices directly from the radio. Includes an AC power adapter but can use four AA alkaline batteries for emergency power back-up (not included).

Earlier versions of this radio have a white or gray case, and the warning messages are black on gray.  (Not so easy to read in my opinion.) They do have the same NOAA alerts (only 60 of them!). AM/FM radio with alarm buzzer and battery back-up in case power goes out.

Click on the image or the link for full details and to check the current price at Amazon.

Midland Consumer Radio Weather Radio All Hazard Radio Gray (WR400)

And here’s an attachable strobe light that would improve the value of the radio for people with hearing problems.

Strobe for Midland Public Alert Weather Radio

We have several NOAA Weather Alert radios in our house. I recommend you consider one, too, and not just for someone who doesn’t hear very well! We all deserve to get warnings of impending emergencies as soon as possible!