Senior Scene May 2, 2016

Emergency Preparedness Week is an annual event that takes place each year during the first full week of May. This national event is coordinated by Public Safety Canada, in close collaboration with the provinces and territories and partners. This year, the theme is Plan. Prepare. Be Aware.  It is meant to help Canadians take action to protect themselves and their families during emergencies.

Through the Get Prepared campaign, Canadians have learned to know the risks, make a plan, and get an emergency kit.  This year’s theme highlights the importance of having these measures in place but specifically emphasizes the need to keep up to date on current conditions, like the weather, that might impact you.

One of the newest initiatives to ensure safety and preparedness is the Alert Ready system. Alert Ready is designed to deliver critical and potentially life-saving alerts to Canadians through television and radio.  The Alert Ready system was developed in partnership with all levels of government, Environment Canada and the broadcast industry to ensure you receive alerts immediately and know when to take action to keep yourself and your family safe.

The Alert Ready system allows officials at each level of government to issue a wide range of public safety messages. The scope can cover events such as tornadoes, train derailments, industrial fires, water contamination and missing persons as well as informational alerts.  For a full listing of alerts visit the website at

In the past I have written columns that included specific preparedness information such as emergency plans, emergency kits, and general awareness. This week I am going to focus on the specific requirements of “Seniors with a Disability/Special Needs”.

Your emergency plan:

  • Create an emergency contact list identifying your personal support network, including physicians, care coordinator, neighbours and your building superintendent. Keep a copy of this list in your emergency kit and on your person.
  • Familiarize yourself with all escape routes, emergency equipment and the location of emergency exits in your home.
  • If you have a pet, bring it with you in an evacuation and have an emergency plan for your pet. Determine in advance who can take care of your animal during an emergency.
  • Request that a panic push-button be installed in your work and/or living area so that in the event of an emergency you can notify others of your location and that you need special assistance.

Recommended additional items checklist:

  • Non-perishable food appropriate to your dietary restrictions
  • Assistive devices needed such as canes, walkers, lightweight manual wheelchair, hearing aids, breathing apparatus, blood glucose monitoring device
  • Extra prescription eyewear and footwear (if required)
  • Extra supply of medications and vitamin supplements
  • A list of all your needed medical supplies and special equipment
  • Copies of all medication prescriptions
  • Extra dentures (if required) and cleaner
  • Latex-free gloves (for anyone providing personal care to you)

Assisting a senior with a disability or special needs – what to do.

  • Check on neighbours to find out if there are seniors who would need your help during an emergency.
  • Always speak calmly and provide assurance that you are there to help. Avoid shouting or speaking unnaturally slowly.
  • Let the person tell you how you can help.
  • Know the location of emergency buttons.
  • Follow instructions posted on special needs equipment and/or assistive devices.


For more information visit  Remember – Plan, Prepare, Be Aware.