How to prepare for an emergency with medically fragile kids.
Two years ago in our little corner of California, the Carr Fire tore through the community. Wildfires are common on the west coast from late Spring to early Fall. The hot, dry landscape becomes kindling, and every year we can expect various small blazes in the area, especially in the wilderness that surrounds our small city; but this was nothing like anyone has seen before.
It produced a fire tornado that reached up to 143 miles per hour winds that ripped neighborhoods to shreds and came on so fast and furious that some had minutes to evacuate to safety.
We were lucky; our home was untouched, but that fire lasted for over a month and burned over 150,000, destroyed thousands of homes, and took several lives including two young children.
No one thinks it will happen to them, but if there was ever a wake-up call for us, that was it. Most people have a general emergency plan, but families that have children with significant medical needs often have to plan beyond grabbing a few bags.
After the threat of the Carr Fire had passed, and I was able to take a minute and collect my thoughts, I thought of all the things that would go into really preparing for an emergency in our home with two children with significant disabilities, various medical equipment, supplies, and medication. Here are some things to keep in mind when preparing for an emergency if you have a medically fragile loved one
Be proactive. You never know when disaster may strike. No one thought the Carr Fire would make it past city limits, but it did. Make up a small emergency bag ahead of time for each family member that you can grab on a moment’s notice. Make copies of all your important papers and put them on a flash drive if you can or upload them to cloud software.
A lot of home medical equipment is portable, but if you have a lot of equipment or it’s cumbersome, have a backup plan in place; find out your supplier’s policies ahead of time for this type of situation.
Pack all medications and make sure you keep a list of them somewhere. There are a lot of great apps for keeping track of medications. One we use is My Therapy.
Make sure you have renters insurance or a good homeowner’s insurance policy in place.
Walk around your home and take a video of all your belongings. Save it to cloud software or email it to yourself. If disaster strikes I can guarantee you, you won’t be able to recall all the small items in your house.
It’s OK to feel every emotion known to man in a short period of time; fear, sadness, thankfulness, and survivor’s guilt are just a few of ones of the roller coaster we were on for months.
Keep a routine, as much as you are able. Consistency can reduce some of the anxiety that you or your loved one may have. Even though we never ended up having to evacuate, our bags stayed packed for over a week. Lots of reassurances, hugs, and cuddles were needed for the kids to know that they were safe.
Most important of all- if you are told to evacuate, do it! Your house and your things can be replaced, but lives cannot.