The fire in the west Houston assisted living community was not the first of its kind this year. A quick Google search shows that there have been over 10 similar fires in retirement communities over the last 12 months.
During the Houston assisted living fire, “Over 100 senior citizen residents were evacuated from the three-story building.” Luckily, sources say all were accounted for and no resident injuries were reported.(1)
Families must wonder if their loved ones will be as protected if an emergency strikes in their assisted living, skilled nursing or rehab faciltiy. Seniors can be very vulnerable when it comes to natural disasters and fires. Since elevators should not be used during times of an emergency, many seniors will need help navigating the stairs and finding safe ground. Seniors in assisted living, skilled nursing and rehab facilities with mobility issues may find emergency evacuations especially challenging. An ounce of prevention can go a long way to make sure you and your loved ones are safe in the rare case that an emergency happens.
Here are a few good questions to ask regarding a community’s disaster plan(2)
1. What is the emergency evacuation procedure in the retirement community?
2. Is there enough staff to execute a full evacuation during every shift?
3. Where will the residents be moved to?
4. Is this coordinated with the local resources, emergency responders, fire stations, hospitals, etc.?
5. How can family members of senior citizens expect to be updated? How can they help?