Are you ready for an emergency?

In an instant, life can throw us a curve ball. While we can’t be ready for every situation, most emergencies around the house can be navigated safely and effectively if we take a little bit of time to organize. Doing this puts everybody’s minds at ease, knowing we have thought of defenses against those forces in life we can’t control.

Preparedness begins with a plan. Several pieces of documentation should be located and copied; this includes family and doctor’s contact information, medical or legal documents such as power of attorney, and a list of medications and allergies. Make sure three people who could be of assistance in case they are called upon have been informed of this plan, and begin by giving them a copy of all documents and a spare key (don’t forget your alarm code or building/gate key). They should have each other’s information as well, and their names and numbers can be written down in an obvious location such as on the refrigerator or by the phone.

Sometimes, even getting to a phone to call for may be difficult or impossible. There are several solutions for this which are reliable and easy to operate. They all involve a fob, or remote that can be worn or carried, and transmits information such as a fall or press of the emergency button via a base station to the appropriate person. Systems vary greatly in both their features and price, and most involve a monthly monitoring fee. The higher end of fobs even transmit GPS location information and use cellular towers instead of landline phones. There is device for every need and budget, so it’s important to research all the available options to determine the best fit. There are many reviews available both online and in print publications such as the AARP Magazine. When in doubt, the manufacturers are very helpful over the phone.

Incidents around the house aren’t limited to falling. Power outages and severe weather can make simple chores like eating and bathing very difficult, even dangerous. Make sure to have a flashlight in every room, complete with working batteries! Glow sticks are great to have on hand since they take years to expire and can be left unattended in a bathroom or even a cabinet or drawer. Rounding out an emergency kit should be three days of food and water, a battery powered radio, basic first aid, and a week of all current medications. Don’t forget pets-the same list goes for them as well!

Not every situation can be fixed with a first aid kit, so be sure to know the numbers for all emergency services. First responders are only a phone call away, and we should never hesitate to call the professionals if a situation is too much for us to handle. Also, make sure to have all the documentation that was organized easily accessible by emergency personnel when they arrive-it will provide answers to many of their medical questions.

A little bit of careful planning can make the difference between an inconvenience and a crisis. With a preparedness kit and several people aware of your plan, much of the stress in an emergency can be avoided-you just need to be ready for it!