Preparing for Disasters

flooded streetThis September 11th marks the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attach that occurred on our soil. It is a day to remember the lives lost and to honor the people who stepped in to help that day. It is a good time to prepare for potential disasters that pose a threat to our communities, like earthquakes, fires, tornadoes, and viral outbreaks. Each home should have a plan in case of fire, earthquake or tornado, just as schools and work places have plans. Older adults and persons with disabilities have additional considerations in times of emergency. There is a need to plan for medication access and how to evacuate safely.

On September 11th, the Retired Senior Volunteer Program is partnering with the Illinois State Police, American Red Cross, and Cornerstone Church to host a 9/11 anniversary event, with specific attention to disaster preparedness. There will be agencies and groups with tables of free items, disaster information, and live demonstrations when possible. The Red Cross will be having a blood drive during the event to add to the emergency blood supply. The event will also have several activities for children and families. There will be food available for purchase. The event will be held on September 11th from 10am to 2pm at the Cornerstone Church in Marion, Illinois. Due to Covid-19, there will be socially distancing, mask requirements indoors, and many activities moved outside to allow for safety and physical separation of attendees.

Throughout the year, the Egyptian Area Agency on Aging tries to encourage the community to plan for disasters and become more resilient. This month, fire safety is the focus. The following considerations are to help older adults prevent a fire in the home.

Smoke detectors cut the risk of home fire fatalities in half. It is critical to have a smoke detector on each floor of your home and near each bedroom. Attach smoke detectors to the ceiling, if possible, and away from the corners of the room or hallway. Smoke detectors in hallways should be located away from cold air return vents.

Check the batteries in smoke detectors regularly and change them when the calendar changes, or change them twice a year when the time changes. Be alert for that “chirping” sound which means your batteries need to be replaced.

Carbon monoxide is virtually undetectable without using detectors that are designed to sound an alarm before dangerous levels accumulate. In Illinois, homeowners are required to install carbon monoxide detectors within fifteen feet of all rooms used for sleeping when the home has gas heat, gas water heater, gas stove, or uses space heaters. In addition, homes with an attached garage are required to install carbon monoxide detectors.

Keep all space heaters in good working condition and place them at least three feet from anything that burns. Never use electric space heaters in the bathroom or touch them when you are wet.

While cooking, wear clothing with short-sleeves. If wearing long sleeves, use rubber bands to keep them from getting close to the burners. Don’t reach over burners. Place pans where you can easily reach them. Use a timer to remind you when something on the stove needs attention. If someone comes to your door or calls you on the telephone while you are cooking, turn off the burners.

If you smoke, use large ashtrays with a center support to hold cigarettes. Never smoke in bed, when sleepy, or when drowsy from medication. Empty ashtrays into a metal container or douse them first with water.

Have a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room of your home. Practice your escape plan whenever your grandchildren visit so they are safe, too.

If your clothing catches on fire, STOP, DROP, and ROLL to extinguish it.

Illinois Disaster Preparedness

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