The Importance of a Personal Support Network
Among the lessons seniors and at-risk communities can take away from the Covid pandemic, this could be the most important: When disaster strikes, isolation can be deadly. Older people who fared best during the outbreak were those with strong networks of friends and family who were there to help when help was needed. That’s good information to know if you are a senior, care for a senior or have seniors as friends and neighbors.
The American Red Cross recommends that senior citizens create a personal support network made up of several individuals who will check in on you in an emergency, to ensure your wellness and to give assistance if needed. This network can consist of friends, roommates, family members, relatives, personal attendants, co-workers and neighbors. Ideally, a minimum of three people can be identified at each location where you regularly spend time, for example at work, home, school or volunteer site.
Unfortunately, members of your social support network may be affected by the same disaster. Before disasters strike, talk with your family, friends, and neighbors about the amount and type of support each of them will provide.
• Create a personal support network of at least three people you can rely on during an emergency. Develop a phone call chain: You call the first person, who calls the next person, who then calls the next.
• Establish a meeting place. Designate two meeting places—one near home and an alternate location—so relatives and friends know where to find you. If your location changes, notify people in your personal support network as soon as possible so they know your status.
The American Red Cross recommends 7 important items to discuss and implement with a personal support network:
Make arrangements, prior to an emergency, for your support network to immediately check on you after a disaster and, if needed, offer assistance.
Exchange important keys.
Show them where you keep emergency supplies.
Share copies of your relevant emergency documents, evacuation plans and emergency health information card.
Agree on and practice methods for contacting each other in an emergency. Do not count on the telephones working.
You and your personal support network should always notify each other when you are going out of town and when you will return.
The relationship should be mutual. You have a lot to contribute! Learn about each other's needs and how to help each other in an emergency.
Practice your plan with those who have agreed to be part of your personal support network.
Social support is a key part of disaster preparedness, response and recovery. Building disaster resistant communities starts with you!
Credit: redcross.org, apa.org, recrossnw.org, ready.gov, mil.wa.gov