Emergency Preparedness for Older Adults
Have you thought about how ready you are for the next big disaster? If you're an older adult, especially living alone or with health issues, being prepared for emergencies is more important than ever. September is National Preparedness Month, and this year the focus is on getting older folks disaster-ready. Why older adults? We know you face bigger risks when extreme weather or other hazards hit. Things like limited mobility, health conditions, living in isolated areas—all these factors make it harder to respond and recover. But the good news is, there are simple steps you can take now to prepare for whatever comes your way. Start by making an emergency plan, building an emergency kit, and connecting with others. You've got this, and being prepared will give you peace of mind so you can keep living life on your own terms. This September, let's get ready together.
As an older adult, especially if you live alone, you need to take extra precautions to prepare for disasters. Start by stocking up on essentials like food, water, medications, a battery-powered radio, flashlights, a first aid kit, blankets, hygiene items, and anything else you rely on daily. Have enough to survive for at least 7-14 days. Store these in easy-to-carry containers in case you have to evacuate quickly.
Develop an emergency plan that includes evacuation routes, meeting spots, and out-of-state contacts. Practice and prepare for different scenarios. Let neighbors and local emergency managers know if you have any medical issues or disabilities so they can check on you if necessary. Additionally, make sure you know how to turn off the gas, water and electricity in the home.
Don't forget to make a plan for any pets you may have. And consider installing emergency alert devices, like Life Alert, that can call for help in the event of a fall or medical emergency where you're unable to call 911 yourself.
Emergency Kits for Any Disaster
Quake Kare offers pre-assembled emergency kits tailored for different disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes or pandemics. Their kits have everything from food and water to first aid supplies, tools, hygiene items and more. For older adults, a basic kit with enough food, water, medicines and a radio can provide lifesaving relief until help arrives.
- Know the types of emergencies most likely to occur in your area.
- Help create a support system of neighbors, friends, and professionals.
- In case of power outage, have a manually operated wheelchair available.
- If you take daily medications or use medical equipment, plan how you'll continue accessing and operating them during an emergency. Talk to your healthcare provider about emergency refills and backup options in case utilities are disrupted. Label and organize medical equipment so it's easy to take with you if you evacuate.
- Ensure a backup power supply for oxygen and other electrical medical devices.
- Identify an evacuation shelter that can meet your medical needs.
- Plan how you will leave and where you’ll go during an evacuation. If you are living in a retirement or assisted living community, learn what procedures are in place in case of emergencies. Keep a copy of exit routes and meeting places in an easy-to-reach place.
- If you have medical, transportation, or other access needs during an emergency, consider signing up for SMART911, Code Red, or your local county registry, depending upon which service your area uses to helps first responders identify people who may need assistance right away.
Preparing for disasters and emergencies can seem overwhelming, but by taking small steps over time you can develop a customized emergency plan to keep you safe during crises. Connecting with local resources for older adults is key—don't try to prepare alone. By building your support network now, you'll have help when you need it most during emergencies.
Take the time now while you're able to develop a solid plan, gather supplies, and strengthen your network of community support. You never know when disaster may strike, but if you go in prepared, you'll weather the storm that much better. This September, don't just think about getting ready - take action. Your future self will thank you.