Senior Living Q & A

Q. What steps should seniors take for emergency preparedness?What steps should seniors take for emergency preparedness?

Linda, La Crescenta

There are steps everyone should take regarding emergency preparedness. Living in Southern California, the threat of earthquake is always with us. Look around your house and identify a safe spot in each room. If there are no pictures or windows above your bed, pull your pillow over your head and stay in bed. If there are pictures or windows, get out of your bed and lie on the floor next to the bed. You can get underneath a sturdy table or desk , or stand against an inside wall. The danger spots are windows, mirrors, hanging objects, bookcases, fireplaces, tall furniture, and the kitchen.

Be sure your water heater is strapped to the wall. You should have five gallons of drinking water per person at home. If you don't, you can use the water in your water heater for drinking. The water from swimming pools needs to be boiled before it can be consumed.

As you look around your house, also note if breakable items are stored on high shelves. If so, they should be moved to lower shelves. Flammable or hazardous liquids such as paints, pest sprays or cleaning products should be secured on lower shelves. Child proof latches can be installed on cabinets to not only keep young grandchildren out, but also to keep the doors closed in case of an earthquake.

Fire is also a threat for us even if we do not live near the hills or in a canyon. Be sure you have smoke detectors and that the batteries are changed twice a year. Do not stand on a ladder or chair to change the batteries. The fire department would much rather you call their regular phone number (not 911) and ask them to come change your batteries (you must supply the batteries), rather than respond to a 911 call when you are lying on the floor with a broken hip.

You can scan all your important documents (medical records, medications, passport, birth certificate, will, living trust, advance directives for health care, etc.) and put them on a flash drive which you keep in your car, in your purse, on your key chain or at a relative's house. You can also e-mail yourself those scanned documents since you can access your e-mail anywhere in the world. Just be sure you only e-mail yourself that information and NOT your entire contact list.

You should also arrange with your family how you will all get in contact after an emergency. If there is an out-of-state relative you should all agree to call this relative to report that you are OK. Working phone lines can get overloaded and shut down when everyone is trying to call every one of their family members and friends. Your cellphone may or may not work. It is more likely to work calling someone on the same network. If the electricity is out, you will need a phone that just plugs into the phone jack and does not use electricity in order to communicate. A pay phone, calling long distance, early in the morning is your best chance for communicating.

If you do all of these things you will have a good start on being prepared for an emergency.

NANCY TURNEY received a bachelor's degree in social work and a certificate in gerontology. If you have a specific question you would like answered in this column, e-mail it to or call Turney at the Crescenta-Cañada YMCA, 790-0123, ext. 225.

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