The Other Side of 50 Cctober 2011

Get ready for winter — emergency preparedness

By From page B11 | October 28, 2011

In working with the older adult population as a care manager assistant for Elder Options of Placerville and Lake Tahoe, Liz Caldwell noticed that her senior clients she came in contact with during home visits were not always prepared for severe winter conditions to come.

Caldwell shared that she has many clients who live alone most of the time in rural areas without power — who would not have been able to cook on their electric stoves and who would be without hot meals for days, if not prepared.

More significantly, other clients dependent on power while living at home for medical necessities. They need to pre-plan for themselves (or with a care manager) to have enough of a back-up supply of oxygen during outages. Not being prepared for severe weather, especially as we age, can be a life or death situation.

In addition to having the right supplies to save your life, support systems are crucial.

It’s important to be able to reach out to people who can help. Typically, individuals who are snowed in cannot be reached by home phones. Most people these days have cordless phones. Unfortunately during a power outage, portable cordless telephones run on electricity and do not work during power outages.

However, wall corded phones will still work even if the power is out. Just as a precaution, it’s a good idea to have a wall phone or a cell phone as a back up communication source if you live in an area subject to power outages.

Caldwell realized that some of her clients were not always prepared for winter and possible power outages and took the initiative to create a “Power Outage Precautionary Checklist,’ which has since been adopted on a national level by the prestigious National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers.

Elder Options would like to share this information in the hopes that it may save a life.

Elder Options recommends using the “Precautionary Power Outage Check List” and taking inventory now, before winter.

Check and see, do you have following items in your house and do you know where they are?

• Bottled water on hand
• Extra blankets
• Candles/flashlights
• Wood stove
• Adequate wood supply
• Gas stove
• Portable oxygen tanks and extra tanks, if needed
• Wall phone
• Gas/propane heat
•Adequate food supply
• New batteries for radio and flashlights (make sure to have the right size)
• Current snow removal service phone numbers
• Back up generator to keep refrigerator food from spoiling

Also think about:
• Last time the chimney was inspected/cleaned. If it’s been over a year, schedule an appointment today.

• In-town support system. Who’s on the list to call if you need help.

• Trees near power lines or house should be trimmed in advance.

Now you can really relax for the holidays and winter. You are prepared.
If you’d like to download and print out copies of the checklist form for yourself or your agency, feel free to visit

For more information contact Liz Caldwell at Elder Options Inc., 82 Main St. in Placerville, [email protected], or 530-626-6939.

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