CONSIDERATIONS FOR THE ELDERLY, HANDICAPPED AND SPECIAL NEEDS IN A SHTF SCENARIO
I often see questions about prepping and bugging out with a handicapped family member.
I have hesitated answering many times as a short answer is hard to provide and every family situation is different.
However I read a post a few days ago in a prepper forum stating that in a SHTF situation a handicapped or elderly person should have the decency to basically walk out into the woods to die to relieve the burden off of the family and save supplies as the person would die in the long run anyway. It was with great disdain that after following the post that the author identified herself as a RN and made a statement that she doesn’t see the fascination the we as a society have about prolonging life. My answer is that if she is actually a healthcare provider she is in the long line of work!
My first suggestion is to “bug in” that is obviously the best scenario handicapped or not. Your base of operations/home is where you have the best chance of survival in most circumstances due to familiarity, supplies (preps) and support network. This location should only be left if there is no other choice.
My second suggestion is to have a “bug out location” this is where planning comes in. While most of the posts and comments I read talk about running out into the woods and surviving with the contents of a bug out bag that should be the last resort (again handicapped or not). If you live in an immediate danger area plan to leave for your bug out location early into any SHTF event. This location should be both attainable and secure. Have a plan on how to get there by multiple routes ahead of time and practice it regularly. If your bug out location is not up and running full time you also need to address the movement of both personnel and supplies. (I may do a future article on convoy operations if there is interest).
I’ll start with the more likely aspects. In current times for most people a SHTF situation is most often a localized or limited regional event such as an extended power outage, winter storm, earthquake or hurricane. If you live in the United States of America FEMA suggests that you have 72 hours of supplies. This was due to the anticipated arrival time of assistance.
Lessons learned from the last few hurricanes show that to be a very conservative length of time though. As a prepper this is your chance to shine. If you are well prepared whether you stay or go you will be better off and need fewer resources than may be needed by others.
All states and counties (and most cities/towns) also have Emergency Response Plans. While these plans address things such as evacuation routes and timelines, need for outside agencies to assist etc as part of the logistics moving people who are unable to self evacuate is a large and important part. While most people assume this to be handicap people, it includes others such as the homeless and working poor (IE no gas/hotel money).
In the area that I live this plan is addressed year round by a “Special Needs” program. People who are unable to evac unassisted are voluntarily listed ahead of time with notes of what equipment is required to assist them IE Oxygen, ventilator, stretcher etc. When an emergency is anticipated they are moved by ambulance or buses to a shelter or if the impact area is projected to be large moved to shelters in other areas. Part of the instructions given to them ahead of time include bringing clothing, medications,emergency contact numbers,important papers etc.
So to “prep” for the localized event you should: Have a realistic understanding of your capabilities and coordinate with local officials ahead of time if the need to do so is identified. Have your medications, important papers (including Doctors info, list of your medical history, medications list and medication allergies), emergency contact numbers and change of clothes ready to go.
Have a minimum of a 72 hour bag packed and ready to use or take with you. (if you have a dedicated caregiver or family member assistant they should also have the same items).
This bag needs to be small think “carry on luggage”.
Truthfully the next most likely event isn’t what a lot of people focus on in prepper forums and that is “life” whether it’s loss of a job, spouse/caregiver, home or independence.
For these areas a “preppers” supply of food, gardens, small livestock, alternate living locations and group/family can be a Godsend. The only way to prep for that is to have as much leeway such as savings, insurance, retirement and family ties as possible.
Now for the meat and potatoes prepping considerations: I consider myself a decent human being and can not fathom sending a family member out to parish to possibly make my situation better. Not even thinking about the guilt you and the others in your group will have to deal with. Keep in mind that the elderly may have experience in many areas that you don’t , whether it’s canning foods, gardening or just in life itself. Most have been through at least a few hard times and may have input from a different view. While the elderly and handicap may not be able to go work in the fields for eight to twelve hours a day truthfully most of the people reading can’t either.
Just like the suggestions in the Medic Down article (alternative uses to not risk the asset) other jobs can be assigned such as food prep, cooking, supply inventory, radio watch, guard duty from a fixed site, watching and teaching children etc. Another thing to consider is that if you force an elderly or handicap member from your group you may also lose other team members along with them (sympathetic desertion), can you/your group afford that? So to me the group morale, experience/knowledge and alternate job assignments are an acceptable offset of lack of physical ability.
How to prep for that: My/our plan includes food storage, gardening, small livestock, a medication plan (for withdrawing off of prescription medications). A set medical area well stocked with medical supplies, OTC meds, alternative medications, references and military hospital cots.
Currently we have a friendly Bug Out Location/group that is willing to take us if needed. (yes if you haven’t figured it out already, I have a handicap spouse). Due to both of our medical backgrounds, her medical instructor, my military, construction, mechanical and Emergency Service experience (and a large amount of preps/supplies don’t hurt), it was a pretty easy sell.
Our extended plan is to have our own second location and we are not to far from our goal of obtaining it. At that time we have a great group of family, friends and co-workers who will use us as their Bug Out Location. So the circle contuninues.
By Robert Taylor