COOKEVILLE – Local emergency personnel and the Upper Cumberland Area Agency on Aging and Disability (UCAAAD) are taking strides to address a pressing need in the Upper Cumberland – preparing seniors for emergencies.
At the Upper Cumberland Senior Expo, scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 22, at Hyder Burks Pavilion, the UCAAAD will introduce a program to attendees designed to do just that, called “SENIOR Planning and Resources for Emergency Preparedness.”
SENIOR P.R.E.P. was created by South Carolina’s Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging to raise awareness of the importance of individual emergency preparedness. The program encourages individuals to organize an emergency kit and an emergency plan, as well as providing resources to aid seniors in the planning process.
SENIOR P.R.E.P. has been adopted by the UCAAAD, a division of the Upper Cumberland Development District (UCDD), which will be taking the lead in implementing the program across the Upper Cumberland. Tennessee will be the first state to join the program, which is being promoted to spread nation-wide.
UCAAAD will launch SENIOR P.R.E.P. at the Senior Expo, where each attendee age 60 and over can receive basic supplies donated by vendors to place in a SENIOR P.R.E.P. bag distributed to attendees. Attendees will be given a checklist of items that should be included in a fully equipped emergency kit and will be encouraged to collect additional items not provided at the Senior Expo. A fully equipped kit includes items that will help prepare seniors to be self-sustaining for 72 hours: flashlight with batteries, seven day supply of medications, legal documents, personal hygiene and sanitation items, extra eyeglasses and hearing aids, family and emergency contact information, water, non-perishable foods, fire extinguisher, plastic sheeting and duct tape, multipurpose tool, whistle, first aid kit, map of local area, cash, change of clothes, and cell phone with extra battery or charger.
“During the last ice storm, some people were without power for up to three weeks,” said Tyler Smith, Putnam County EMA director. “We found that most of our seniors were not prepared for that kind of emergency.”
The Cookeville City Fire Department, Putnam County Emergency Management Agency, Putnam County Emergency Medical Service, 911 and Rescue will be at an emergency preparedness station at the Expo showing seniors how to be prepared in the case of an emergency. Attendees can participate in interactive activities and win supplies to put in their SENIOR P.R.E.P. bags. Emergency personnel also encourage attendees to bring their weather radios for programming at the Emergency Preparedness station.
“As our senior population rises, so does the need to educate the public on how seniors can prepare for emergencies,” said Jessica Pruett, UCAAAD disaster preparedness coordinator, and head of the SENIOR P.R.E.P. program. “After the ice storm, we saw a serious need in our region that had to be addressed. Many seniors were left ill-equipped and unprepared.”
Along with distributing the SENIOR P.R.E.P. bags Pruett will also be coordinating on-site disaster preparedness training at senior centers across the region, by request.
“Through fundraising, we were able to purchase the SENIOR P.R.E.P. bags, which we believe, along with providing education to seniors and resources to fill the bags, will be a great first-step in preparing seniors in the Upper Cumberland for future emergency situations,” she said.
The UCAAAD plans to reach seniors who are home-bound and distribute additional bags at other events through fund raising efforts and donations received to sustain the program. To make monetary or supply donations to the SENIOR P.R.E.P. program, contact Pruett at (931) 476-4157.