Preparing for emergencies

Preparing for emergencies

As Hurricane Sandy approaches the eastern United States and Canada, many people are preparing for the worst. Emergencies like this hurricane happen when we least expect them, so it’s best to be prepared.

Here are some ideas to help you prepare so that if someone with dementia is involved in an emergency, you can quickly respond.

Advance preparations

  • If the person with dementia lives in a residential facility, find out about its disaster and evacuation plans. Ask if you will be responsible for evacuating your family member.
  • Whether you live with the person with dementia, or you are a long-distance caregiver, make sure evacuation plans include his specific needs. Check your local Alzheimer Society and other organizations that provide services to elderly people to see if help is available.
  • Prepare an emergency kit
  • Safely Home® is a 24-hour nationwide emergency response service for people with dementia who wander or who have a medical emergency. Call toll-free at 1-800-616-8816 or visit

If you know a pending disaster is about to occur: 

  • Get yourself and the person with dementia to a safe place.
  • If the need to evacuate is likely, do not delay. Try to leave as early as possible to minimize long delays in heavy traffic.
  • Alert others (family, friends, and medical personnel) that you are changing locations, and give them your contact information. Contact them regularly as you move.
  • It’s important to have access to health records, especially in the case of an emergency. There are now many options for storing personal health records, including online services that make it possible to access records from anywhere in the world. Regardless of how you choose to store personal health information, make sure there are people other than the primary caregiver who have access to or copies of the person with dementia’s medical history, medications, physician information and family contacts.
  • Purchase extra medications so you don’t run out in the middle of the storm
  • If your family member uses oxygen, be sure to obtain portable tanks.
  • Are there friends or relatives you can stay with if you have to evacuate? If the person receives routine health procedures at a clinic or with home health, who are the back-up service providers? Have contact information easily accessible.

Help is available

The Canadian Government website offers information about preparing for an emergency and where to find shelter and supplies in a disaster.

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