Seniors, Disabled Need to Make Special Disaster Plans

Just a few extra precautions can ensure a safe and effective response to emergencies

(San Diego, CA) – Disasters are a fact of life in Southern California and can strike without warning. Wildfires can engulf areas in a matter of minutes. Earthquakes, floods and other emergencies highlight the need to be prepared to evacuate safely with a moment’s notice.

For the millions of elderly and disabled Americans with physical or cognitive disabilities, emergencies present an especially daunting challenge. Many of these individuals are unable to evacuate themselves, or even see or hear evacuation announcements.

Seniors, the disabled, their families and caregivers must take medical conditions and physical limitations into consideration along with other needs that must be met when planning for possible disaster.

According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), 1,200 senior citizens are killed from fire related incidents each year. Over 13 million seniors across America report that they would need help from others to evacuate properly. Seniors often have unique needs for medication and care that can be fatal if left untreated in an emergency.

Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, President and Founder of At Your Home Familycare in San Diego, urges everyone to make plans now as wildfire season approaches to ensure the safety of seniors and the disabled. “An evacuation plan complete with vital medical information and a team of people designated for assistance is something every person with special needs should have,” said Edwards-Tate. “It could mean the difference in making your way to safety instead of risking injury or death.”

“If you’re a caregiver, or you have a family member who relies on a home care organization such as At Your Home Familycare, encourage your loved ones to make plans now,” said Edwards-Tate. “Knowing what to do eases the fears and anxiety we all naturally feel when faced with an emergency. It’s empowering to know that you can be prepared.”

Individuals should make plans getting help with family, friends and neighbors and put together a “Disaster Team” who can help with evacuation. The team should include someone who can carry and transport larger objects such as wheelchairs. The team should all exchange contact information and at least one should have a key to the home.  Inform your regular caregiver of your plan.

Put a checklist together of the items you’ll need if you evacuate, including medication and medical supplies, and things you use every day such as cleaning and personal hygiene items. If you become separated from your regular caregiver, having your routine and instructions in writing will help maintain as normal a routine as possible. If you must call on emergency personnel to help you evacuate, post your instructions in an obvious place, such as a note taped to your refrigerator.

The Department of Homeland Security, FEMA, and the American Red Cross have an excellent free booklet called Preparing for Disaster for People with Disabilities and other Special Needs with tips on getting informed, making a plan, assembling a kit, and maintaining these plans for people with mobility problems or who have hearing, learning,  or seeing disabilities. These tips provide individuals and caregivers with considerations needed to help manage communications, equipment, pets and home hazards. The booklet is available free HERE, or by calling the American Red Cross at 1-800-REDCROSS.

About At Your Home Familycare

Established in 1984, the mission of At Your Home Familycare is to make a positive difference in the quality of life for the communities it serves, especially on behalf of senior citizens, disabled adults, and youth, by providing caring, reliable, and affordable non-medical home care. AYHF President and Founder Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, is a native San Diegan and a pioneer in the non-medical home care aide services industry. Edwards-Tate was among the first to recognize the growing need for services allowing individuals to remain independent created by the aging baby boomer population. Now celebrating its 25th year in business, AYHF is one of San Diego County’s Top 50 Women-Owned Businesses and Top 100 Fastest Growing Businesses in San Diego, and enjoys a reputation for upholding the highest possible standards among its employees and its emphasis on customer service.

AYHF is online at; on Facebook at, and Twitter at @AYHFamilycare

Contact: Gayle Lynn Falkenthal / (619) 997-2495 /

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