The role of a caregiver involves responsibility for so many things – medication management, scheduling, transportation, etc. – the last thing you want to worry about is what to do when the unexpected happens. Instead of worry about it, do what you can to be prepared. Having a plan is key to peace of mind and achieving the best possible outcome in an emergency. Here are three tips I recommend for any caregiver:

Contact your town hall about its Special Needs Registry

First, register your care recipient with the Special Needs Registry if your town hall or city hall maintains such a list. Most cities and or towns have this registry. This way the person in charge of handling events such as responses to a natural disaster can call or send someone to the home to check on the registered person. This is just another component to emergency preparedness that many people do not know exist in some of the towns. It should be noted that not all cities or towns offer this feature, but it is worth a phone call to you town hall to inquire if they have a Special Needs Registry.

Create a Disaster Supply Kit

Second, please start a Disaster Supply Kit. Should something terrible happen, knowing where you can find tools and essential items will allow you to feel as in control of the situation as possible. What should the kit include? I found list of supply kit items on the FEMA website (https://www.ready.gov/kit). While viewing this list I was wondering how I would get these things all together to have on hand and more importantly what would it cost. I came up with a plan: I would get all that I could from the dollar store, which would save me some money. Then I would try to pack everything in a tote that has wheels so that it would be easily transported, should I have to leave in a rush. I would also write on the front of the tote any expiration dates pertaining to any food or medications that need to be discarded and replaced. This way I would ensure good foods and new medications and update the kit quarterly.

Set up a Family Communication Plan

The Mass. Emergency Management Agency recommends creating a Family Emergency Communication plan and provides a template for creating one for your family on its website (https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/108887). It's a good idea. I recommend filling it out completely and then reviewing it quarterly when checking the expiration dates on the foods and medications to ensure it is current information and that nothing has changed. I would put the documents in a secure folder and keep it with the Disaster Supply Kit. Also, make copies that every family member can put in his or her wallet or another handy location.

At minimum, I think that these three documents are an excellent start to a disaster plan should we need to prepare. Planning is often times overlooked by many but it is necessary in order to relieve stress and illness that may arise during an undetermined, unforeseen mishap.