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Are You Ready When Disaster Strikes?

Are you prepared for the next natural disaster or weather emergency? If you’re like most people, the answer is no. Only four percent of all Americans have taken the steps necessary to be ready when the unexpected occurs, according to the American Red Cross.

As we saw when Hurricane Katrina struck, older adults are especially vulnerable in the face of disaster. But there’s much you can do to reduce your risks, according to Tina Heany, executive director of Royal Oaks Manor, a continuing care retirement community located in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains in Bradbury.

Royal Oaks Manor is part of Southern California Presbyterian Homes (SCPH), headquartered in Glendale.  Other SCPH’s in the region are Windsor Manor, Glendale; Westminster Gardens, Duarte, and Twelve Oaks Lodge in La Crescenta.  The emergency disaster plans are practiced at all SCPH facilities.

“We’ve invested much time and energy in making sure that our staff and residents are prepared and know what to do in case of an emergency,” says Heany. “Both staff and residents receive ongoing training in emergency planning and preparedness, and we conduct evacuation and other types of drills aimed at safeguarding everyone’s well-being.”

Step 1: Be informed

While there is a wide range of potential emergencies—earthquakes, fire, flooding, toxic spills—some are more likely to occur where you live than others., such as earthquakes and wild fires.

Also, make sure you’re prepared to monitor the situation through local media outlets. Know how to access information from the National Weather Service, and which radio (portable battery operated) and TV stations to turn to for emergency alerts and updates. For more information on specific types of emergencies, visit or call 1-800-BE-READY for resources available through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Step 2: Build your network
Make a list of family and friends who you can call on for assistance. Do you know your neighbors? Maintaining good relationships with others on your block or in your building means having other people nearby who can help out in a crisis. Make sure everyone knows where you plan to go if it becomes necessary to leave your home.  Have a contact outside of your home city and state, if possible.  Be sure your school children are aware of who to call in case of an emergency.

Step 3: Make a plan
Developing an emergency plan for all members of your family and knowing how to use it are critical. Help may not be immediately available in the wake of a disaster. You may not have access to everyday necessities or conveniences. Make sure you know what to do in these circumstances. Think about what happens in your daily life, the people you rely upon, the things you need. Create a support network you can call on in an emergency. Consider your transportation options. Plan for alternatives—what if someone is unreachable or your primary transport is unavailable? Write it all down.

Step 4: Make a kit
In a serious emergency, you may be on your own for several days or more. Make sure you have the basic supplies you’ll need to weather this period. Food, water, medications and medical supplies are among the absolute essentials. A battery-powered or hand-crank radio ensures you can monitor the situation. A flashlight with batteries and first aid kit should also top any list. And don’t forget items specific to your unique circumstances—pet supplies, eyeglasses, hearing aid and batteries, wheelchair batteries, extra oxygen, cash as the banks, ATMs, and cash registers at markets may not work. etc.

To learn more about Southern California Presbyterian Homes, please visit us at or call (818) 247-0420.

The American Red Cross is a great source for a full list of supplies and more detailed planning. Go to or visit your local American Red Cross office for more information.