In many state and communities, there is! The emergency number to dial is 211, not 911.  If you are having a simple or complex meltdown in your life and need to get social services help, you may have no idea where to start to get some help.   "Call 2-1-1 for help with food, housing, employment, health care, counseling and more."  This link will help you locate your local 211 number using your zip code.  Your 211 center may not be open 24 hours, and many have an alternate number they may send you to, but still, it is a great idea!  

Another great idea as we enter this winter season is the Vulnerable needs registry.  

"A special needs registry has been created to allow residents with special needs the opportunity to provide information to assist emergency management agencies. This will allow emergency managers better information on how they may be able to meet the needs of vulnerable populations before, and after emergencies."
 For more information, follow below the orange squiggle.

So who should be on the vulnerable needs registry?  People in wheelchairs or bedridden, hearing or visually impaired, people needing oxygen or special refrigerated medicines like insulin, people needing dialysis.  With bad weather and iffy electrical service during power outages, these folks are then going to know you should be helped first.  

It is explained here in a video for my local community but search it for your community as well.  It is a national movement, along with 211.  I know from limited searching that WV and Kansas have such a registry.  The winter can bring tough times for folks, and those with health needs and mobility issues should get special assistance first!

Click on the video and lets see if we can more than 70 views they have right now!

I learned about these two services by reading an article in my local newspaper.  Two faculty members at Marshall University wrote a paper describing the health effects of prolonged power outages on an elderly population.  Specifically, they looked at the crisis cause in the summer of 2012 by a derecho storm which knocked out power to a broad swath (672,000 persons) of West Virginia for 1 to 3 weeks.  This storm was followed by a really unpleasant heat wave, and folks lacked air conditioning who were bedridden.  

The study, published last month in the peer-reviewed journal Clinical Geriatrics, highlighted two cases following the 2012 derecho that left millions of Americans without electricity for days.

"Our article described two cases where patients who were bedridden developed complicated and irreversible pressure sores after being without power for several days," said Dr. Shirley M. Neitch, a professor of geriatrics in the department of internal medicine at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.

Unfortunately, those two individuals died as a result of their infections.  The solution promoted by these researchers were using 211 and Vulnerable Needs Registry to identify the people who most need help in a crisis, both of which I had never heard of, even though I am married to a social worker, who also had never heard of these systems.

Maybe these services aren't available for you, but for many they are!  And if you start calling your state, you may find folks organizing to bring them to your community.  United Way is working to participate in these programs for many agencies and NGOs they fund as well as Red Cross.  Wikipedia describes some of the services linked to by 211

So great job by my colleagues at Marshall University (never met them, but still, great job) and tell a friend about these services.  If they aren't in your area, maybe they should be.

Originally posted to murrayewv on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 04:39 AM PST.

Also republished by Barriers and Bridges, Kossacks for the Homeless Person, Itzl Alert Network, KosAbility, Kitchen Table Kibitzing, and Community Spotlight.

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