There were no new wildfires in Utah on Sunday. That marks the first day in over five months, and it is promising news. Still, wildfires remain a real risk, and it’s important to stay safe.
As September nears its close, it’s important to remember that this is Disaster Preparedness Month, a time to prepare for natural and manmade disasters like Utah wildfires. If you have not yet made your disaster preparedness plan, this is a great time to start. Having a plan helps you to react faster if an emergency strikes, know where you’ll go to reach safety and ensure that every member of your family stays safe too.
When you’re making your plan, take extra precautions to consider the most vulnerable members of your family including frail, elderly loved ones. Seniors with dementia, those who are faced with physical limitations and anyone who has been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness needs extra support to stay safe. Salus offers these tips to help you and all of your family members to prepare.
Red Cross Ready Across Utah
Surviving a wildfire is often dependent on your level of preparation. Seconds count, so it’s important to know where the dangers are, be ready to leave at a moment’s notice and know where you can go to get to safety. Counting yourself as Red Cross Ready is an important step in this process. The primary step in this is having a clear understanding of both the wildfires posing a direct threat in your community and the potential impact of wildfires that are further away. Those wildfires could become a threat if winds shift, or they might more immediately impact the air quality in your community. Stay informed with local news broadcasts and newspapers, as well as weather reports and utahfireinfo.gov.
Evacuation with a Go Bag
There’s no time to waste if a fire is near and you’re told you need to evacuate. That’s why it’s so important to have a “go bag” packed and ready to go. This bag contains all the essentials to get through the first four days after your evacuation.
Here are some important things to have in your bag:
- A copy of your ID in case you need to travel or show proof of identity or register for help.
- Cash in case you can’t use your credit card or ATM card immediately.
- Water as clean drinking water might be difficult to access for a few days.
- Food that is non-perishable and does not require heating to eat.
- Hand sanitizer and other sanitary supplies
- Four days supply of any essential medications
- A supply of masks in case you evacuate to a busy shelter and need to take COVID-19 precautions.
- A cellphone charger and extra batteries
- The names and numbers of emergency contacts and medical providers. If your elderly loved one is receiving services from a Utah hospice, home health or homecare provider, include their contact information too.
- Clothing – comfortable and weather appropriate.
If your aging loved one or child uses a Utah home health or hospice care provider, include their contact information in the bag. If they are not already supporting you with the evacuation, it is important to reach out to them as soon as you’re able and let them know everyone is safe. Additional resources and support are often available when you reach out to your care provider.
Pack and store your go bag so it is easily accessible. Grabbing it at a moment’s notice is often necessary, so know where it is, and make sure that all the supplies you need are inside of it.
Each year homes, families and seniors in Utah face some level of risk because of wildfires. While this is scary, Salus reminds you that you can mitigate your risks by having a plan. Be Red Cross Ready and Pack A Go Bag. Our Utah home health and hospice teams are provided with the knowledge and training they need to support patients and their family members in the event of an emergency. Disaster preparedness guidelines set by the American Red Cross guide us, and we offer our care teams 24/7 support from our office staff in the event of an emergency.
For more information on keeping your senior loved ones safe in the event of a wildfire and other important Disaster Preparedness tips, visit https://www.utah.gov/beready/index.html.