Senior facilities have year-round emergency plans

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For most, emergency planning starts with the first news of a hurricane or other threat. For those facilities and agencies charged with caring for seniors and the disabled, the plan is in place year round thanks to a state mandate.

During Tuesday's earthquake, the 80 residents of Morningside in Williamsburg, an assisted living residence, were "evacuated" to a safe, central area of the building. Everything went smoothly and followed the established emergency plan to the letter, according to executive director Lynn Irvine.

For those in flood zones where mandatory evacuations to higher ground are sometimes enforced, preparations for the worst were under way on Wednesday. At Shelton on the Bay, on Mill Creek inHampton, the administration was readying in case an evacuation was ordered; last time it had just 24 hours notice to get its 45 residents to a facility it contracts with for shelter inWilliamsburg.

At Eden Court, another Hampton facility, administrator Wanda Pruett didn't discount the possibility of a mandatory evacuation though it hasn't been necessary in the past. "We have vans filled with gas if we're ordered to evacuate. Our evacuation site is a local church," she said. With 35 residents, all Alzheimer's and dementia patients, Pruett hopes they can shelter in place. "It's much less disruptive." With a generator, medical supplies and an emergency food stock, the facility invites the families of both residents and staff to ride out the storm with them. "They're welcome to stay here with us," says Pruett, who reviews emergency plans with residents' families twice a year

For those living alone and without family support, the Peninsula Agency on Aging, which covers all the Peninsula communities, maintains a list of between 80 to 100 people that it checks on to see if they need assistance or relocation during emergencies. Special needs residents are asked to register at http://www.hrspecialneeds.org in advance.

Progressive Healthcare Services in Newport News, an agency that provides skilled nursing and personal care to homebound adults lists the following in its emergency preparedness plan for clients:

• Maintain working flashlights and battery-powered radio; tune to emergency broadcast station; have extra batteries on hand.

• Be aware of location of fuse box and have a supply of fuses.

• Have extra blankets; propane or kerosene heaters that are in good condition.

• If living in rental home, have landlord's number available.

• Have back-up batteries or generator for operating life support equipment. If you use oxygen and have critical electrical needs, call your local power company right away to register for emergency equipment PRIOR to any emergencies.

• Have food that doesn't require cooking and a manual can opener.

• Fill bathtub with water to ensure an uncontaminated water supply and fill a few clean soda bottles with water.

• Pack for shelter: blankets, sleeping bags, clothing, medications, personal care items and diversionary items; take money, checkbook, credit cards, important papers, health insurance cards, telephone numbers, keys; food; portable radio, flashlight and batteries.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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