Each year, the president of the United States proclaims March “American Red Cross Month.”
The Red Cross was founded in 1881 by Clara Barton, a Civil War nurse who risked her life to aid the wounded, raise spirits, and deliver dearly needed medical supplies. Since that time, the Red Cross has been a consistent lifeline for people when they need it most. The organization provides disaster relief, support for military families, lifesaving blood. The Red Cross also offers health and safety education and training such as the importance of developing a personal support network for seniors.
The Importance of a Personal Support Network
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.
7 important considerations for your personal support network:
- Check in. Make arrangements ahead of time for your network to check in on you after a disaster has occurred.
- The key to it. People in your network need to be able to get in to your home in the case of an emergency. Make sure you exchange important keys.
- Stocked up. Everyone in your network should be familiar with where you keep your supply of emergency equipment--flashlights, first aid kits, etc. so that if a disaster strikes, they can access the supplies without asking.
- Share documents. Make sure copies of your relevant emergency documents, evacuation plans and emergency health information card are distributed among your network.
- Keep in contact. Decide on multiple ways to get in contact with each other in your network should an emergency occur and keep in mind that telephones may or may not be working in such a situation.
- Schedule around. If you or someone in your network will be traveling, make sure the entire group knows.
- The relationship should be mutual. Your network doesn't do everything for you. As a part of the network, you contribute to the well being of the others as much as they do to you! Keep an eye out for each other and the network's strength will be greater.