By Alicia Doyle, Friday, April 22, 2011

The Simi Valley Senior Center will host “Senior 911,” an emergency preparedness workshop April 30, offering seniors information to be better prepared for life’s unexpected emergencies.

“The biggest myth that most seniors have concerning emergencies is they think that the city has someone who is going to come rescue them immediately,” said Laurie Dickinson, center supervisor. “Although the city has excellent Crisis Emergency Response Team volunteers, in the case of a major crisis, it may be some time before anyone is able to respond. That is why it is important that seniors be prepared and set up a plan in case of an emergency such as an earthquake to keep themselves safe — at least in the short term.”

Geared for older adults and their families, the event is sponsored by Senior Concerns and Moving Seniors Forward. The event is free, with registration required by Tuesday.

“Seniors have special needs, and they will be specifically addressed at this seminar,” said Carol Freeman, president of Senior Concerns. “All of us say we are going to check our homes to make sure they are safe tomorrow. The reality is that with baby boomers turning 65 this year, we are living in an aging society. It is important that seniors’ special needs are addressed so that they have tools and a backup plan to remain safe.”

Event presenters will include representatives from Gold Coast Ambulance, who will talk about personal medical emergencies. The Red Cross will discuss disaster response, the fire department will address household emergencies, and the Simi Valley Police Department will focus on home and personal security.

While some older adults believe they’ve learned how to protect themselves over the years — such as someone who survived an earthquake — “what a senior hasn’t figured is that gas line is harder to turn with arthritis or maybe the water valve is rusted. A reminder to check them out now is wise,” Freeman said.

“You may have a senior neighbor that you assume has a backup plan with friends or family in the event of an emergency, and they may have no one locally. It is important that we check on each other, especially our seniors,” Freeman said.

Senior citizens are particularly vulnerable during emergency situations — earthquakes, severe weather and, even heat waves, Freeman added.

Disaster preparedness can seem daunting, but it’s certainly doable, Freeman said.

“Getting prepared for disasters is something that can be quite easy,” Freeman said. “It’s a positive experience, and you’ll feel good about it when you’re done. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming, and we know it is necessary.”


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