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Build on Pandemic Preparation to Prepare for a Hurricane

3 Things You Need to Do Before Disaster Strikes

A lesson all of us should learn from living through a pandemic is the importance of preparation.

Imagine how different things would be if we stockpiled adequate personal protective and medical equipment, and planned and practiced what to do to stop the spread of infections.

Kupuna and caregivers are especially vulnerable during a pandemic, and they have special needs if a
disaster like a hurricane or tsunami were to happen in Hawaii.

A basic emergency kit should have at least a two-week supply of food, medicines and essentials. These days, you may also want protective masks, alcohol wipes and gloves. Include medical alert bracelets, eyeglasses, hearing aids, oxygen and other supports, along with extra batteries and a cell phone charger. Put copies of important documents like wills, power of attorney, and bank account information in a waterproof container or on a USB drive. Also include a description of medical conditions, list medications and allergies, what to do in a medical emergency and emergency contacts.

If your loved one is in a long-term care facility, ask to see its disaster plan and infection control plan to determine if it’s adequate for a catastrophe or outbreak.

Have a detailed disaster plan that includes a support network. Caregivers may not be able to reach a loved one in an emergency, especially during an evacuation. You’ll want someone to help your loved one if you can’t be there.

Don’t assume an emergency shelter will open near you. Sheltering in place or at friend or relative’s home in a safe area could also work.

Check to see if your home is engineered to survive a severe storm.

If you live in a concrete building on an upper floor, you may be better off at home during a storm or tsunami.

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COMMUNICATIONS: A disaster plan includes communications and an emergency meeting place. Keep an analog phone in case digital ones lose power. Teach the person you care for to text and use social media to stay in contact.

DEMENTIA: During an evacuation, a person with dementia may become anxious. The National Institute on Aging offers this advice: Remain calm and supportive. He or she is likely to respond to the tone you set. Make sure the person is wearing an ID bracelet and ID tags are sewn into clothes.

FIRE SAFETY/ESCAPE ROUTES: Plan two ways out of every room. Check for items like bookcases that could fall and block an escape path.

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This story originally appeared in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser's 2020 Disaster Preparedness Guide.

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