What is the most convenient time for an emergency? I would say, “Never.” But while we may not be able to prevent or plan when emergencies occur, we can plan to be prepared when they happen. Let’s look at several types of emergencies and ways to be prepared if they occur.
One of the most important aspects of fire safety is to have working smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors. Time is critical in a fire, and the more warning you have, the better chance you have of getting out. To make sure the detectors stay in working condition it is good to press the test button every month and to change the battery at least once per year. Another very important aspect of safety in a fire is to develop escape plans for the different rooms in your home. Having preplanned escape routes in your mind will save essential time in getting away from the fire. If you come to a closed door on your escape route check the door with the back of your hand to make sure it is not hot, a sign of a fire on the other side of the door. If the door is hot, do not open it. You then will need to use an alternative path to get out of your home. If you encounter smoke along your escape route it is good to crawl on your hands and knees to keep from being overcome by the smoke. Being prepared can help you avoid a tragedy.
Just as time is critical in a fire emergency, time is critical in a medical emergency. However, there is much more you can do than just getting to a health care professional quickly. Unless the health care professional you see is your family physician, he or she is unlikely to be familiar with your medical history, and this information can be very important for you to receive the best medical care. It is good to have an easily accessible packet containing the following information: a list of current medical conditions, a list of current medications, your primary care physician’s phone number along with any specialists that you see regularly, the contact information for your healthcare POA/next of kin, and a copy of your advance directives. The advance directives are especially important if you are terminally ill and do want aggressive treatment for your terminal condition. It may also be good for your healthcare POA/next of kin to have a copy of this information in case you are not able to tell the EMTs where your information is located. Some people find it easier to put all this information on a flash drive, which they keep updated as their medical conditions or medications change. If you live alone, an emergency telephone alert system is an excellent way to let someone know you need help without having to get to a phone.
Today we have looked at Fire and Medical emergencies. In a future blog we will look at a couple of other emergency situations because being prepared can make a positive difference in coping with unexpected, hazardous events.
Elder Care Coordinator