Caregivers often become experts at preparedness when it comes to the small things. They bring extra information to doctor's visits; they carry epi-pens for allergic reactions; they take their loved ones for frequent exams to detect and treat illnesses like cancer early. On outings caregivers bring extra snacks in case of a blood sugar drop, or pack an extra bottle of water or a sweater. Yet what about the big stuff--have caregivers prepared their charges for a flood, a fire, an earthquake? These things are unpredictable and can leave people stranded without backup supplies that could save a life--medications, a change of clothes, batteries for medical devices, etc. The Red Cross recommends creating a kit just in case of a catastrophe. The kit should be filled with what someone would need if the worst happens. The Go-Stay Kit is one way to gather resources and be prepared if disaster strikes in such a way as to affect a senior.
What It Is
A Go-Stay Kit, according to their website GoStayKit.org, contains several "tabs", each of which contain different information and help guide a person toward packing a kit with all personal essentials. The first few tabs contain information such as name and a recent photograph (useful if, for example, a building collapses and someone is injured or unconscious), emergency contact information (imagine how much easier it would be to get loved ones cared for if emergency contacts were all already written down for a medical worker to find!), and important papers such as identification or medical information. The next few tabs contain essential items, such as medications and their dosages (especially useful for hospital stays), a "Stay-Kit" in case someone is trapped in his or her home for several days without help, and a "Go-Kit" if someone is forced to relocate from the residence suddenly. It also has an identifying wristband, which can help keep track of someone and his or her items in a shelter if necessary, and a "HELP/OK" sticker, which can be placed on a door to let authorities know if the people inside need help or are okay for the time being.
The goal of the Go-Stay Kit is to help people of all ages prepare for disaster. They have ways to customize and design kits for particular needs, such as a teacher for lock down procedures, pet supplies for those who also need to plan for their furry friends, or for low-income people in flood areas who want to be safe in case of heavy rains. Being prepared is a huge emphasis of the product, since it is impossible to predict when or where a disaster could strike.
For Seniors and Their Caregivers
Seniors, especially low-income seniors or those with significant health needs, are part of the most at-risk populations during a disaster or crisis. They face serious risk especially if they do not live with a caregiver or stay in a larger facility. Imagine how a wheelchair-bound senior would survive a major flood, or how a senior with dementia would handle a fire burning down a home. For these reasons emergency preparedness should be a major concern for caregivers, especially in locations where natural disasters are more frequent. Midwestern and Southern-located seniors risk flooding and tornado's yearly; hurricanes rock the Gulf and East Coast during hurricane season; the North faces yearly blizzards that can even shut down public transportation and most roads, which makes a medical emergency difficult to tackle. Although seniors do not live at constant risk of life-threatening disaster, it would not be a bad idea to plan for such a time just in case it occurs.
In some cases, the emergency does not have to be as catastrophic as a plane crash or a tornado; it can be as simple as a heart attack. If a neighbor knows they have a senior living next to them and has not heard from the person in a while, the person can check in on the senior. Imagine how much faster that senior could get proper medical care if, when paramedics arrived to find the person fallen and injured, they find a full list of medications, extra batteries for medical devices, or testing strips for a diabetes kit, and contact information for the closest relative or friend.
The Go-Stay Kit also offers training on how to use and pack the product, and they specifically cater to seniors and low income people who are at high risk during disasters. Interested readers can keep track of events on the GoStayKit website or on their Facebook page, which highlights events and preparedness tips. Anyone who is concerned for a senior's safety during an emergency or who would like to know more about the Go-Stay Kit should visit the Go-Stay Kit website for more information.
American Red Cross. Disaster Preparedness For Seniors By Seniors. Available at http://www.redcross.org/images/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m4640086_Disaster_Preparedness_for_Srs-English.revised_7-09.pdf. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
Go Stay Kit. Facebook page. Available at https://www.facebook.com/gostaykit. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
Go Stay Kit. Gostaykit.org. Available at http://gostaykit.org/. Retrieved June 13, 2016.