Each facility is unique. It may be beneficial to work with others when developing plans, but make sure the plan you adopt fits your situation. If you are in a facility in which there is only one care giver at a time, encourage staff members to coordinate their family plans with the plan for the residential facility. Offer the facility as a meeting place for families of staff. This will provide peace of mind for staff members and supply extra personnel at a crucial time.
Inform residents of what could happen during an earthquake and the steps being taken to provide for their safety. Involve residents whenever possible by incorporating their suggestions.
Develop an employee training program. Include training on procedures for providing first aid, securing utilities, suppressing fire, calming/directing residents, conducting light search and rescue, evacuating the facility, providing emergency power, supplying water and food, and providing care to residents with special needs. Ensure that each employee knows his or her earthquake assignment.
Look for items in each room that could become a hazard during an earthquake and correct them. Secure medical equipment, heavy appliances, bookcases, plants, and other items that might fall. Place heavy objects on lower shelves. Move beds away from windows. Check exit routes and remove items that might block them after an earthquake. Determine a meeting place outside, far enough from the building to be clear of falling debris and safe in case of fire. Install automatic security lights in each room and hallway.
Stock supplies. Be sure to include the following items:
- Canned fruits and vegetables (the liquid will supplement water supplies and aid with health concerns)
- Hard candy (for energy and comfort)
- Sturdy folding chairs
- Thermal ground covers
- A commode or plastic toilet with a seat, and a supply of trash bags and toilet paper
- Cards, games and books (to divert residents' attention and keep them busy)
- Keep part of your emergency supplies, including an extra first aid kit, outside the facility in a storage shed or other nearby secure location.
Unless a change in medication is imminent, keep at least a seven to ten day supply of prescription medications in a secure area. Have a plastic trash bag nearby so that medicines may be gathered quickly when evacuating the building.
Identify a safe spot in each room where residents can go when an earthquake occurs. If they can't reach the safe spot, teach them to get down on the ground, or as low as possible, and cover their heads with their arms. Conduct earthquake drills with staff and residents regularly.
Hold drills to test the facility's earthquake plan. Emphasize to residents that their care givers are prepared. Hold discussions with staff after each drill to identify procedures that worked well and those that need to be changed.
When an earthquake occurs, staff members need to consider their own personal safety first. They will not be able to provide for the needs of those in their care if they are severely injured themselves. The staff should assist mobile residents to safety before assisting those with mobility problems.
Maintain a list of the medications and equipment each resident needs; the name, address and phone number of each resident's doctor and pharmacist/pharmacy; and the name, address, and phone number of the relative or other responsible person with whom you deal.
If the resident uses equipment to aid in mobility, have him or her keep it nearby at all times. Place extra canes near exits. Store extra hearing aid batteries and eyeglasses in a secure area.