How Older Adults can prepare for Emergencies
What would you do if a natural disaster hit your neighborhood? Would you be ready to evacuate your home in less than an hour? Or what if you were stuck in your home for seven days with no electricity, gas, running water, transportation or phone service? What would you do? These are important questions for each of us to consider, and the best way to make it through any emergency situation is to prepare in advance.
Here are 5 ways elderly adults can do now to be prepared for an emergency.
1. Prepare an Emergency Kit
Having emergency supplies, especially emergency first aid kits, readily available is probably the first step to consider. There may be no time or opportunity to gather these supplies during an emergency, so have them stored in a convenient place ahead of time; a large, water proof bin works well for most homes. Some of these supplies may have expiration dates (e.g. canned foods) or may be subject to corrosion (e.g. batteries), so check on them every few months and replace as needed.
- portable AM/FM radio
- canned food
- can opener and cooking/eating utensils
- bottled water
- first aid kit
- lantern (battery-powered)
- extra batteries
- pocket knife
2. Keep a Backup Supply of Medications and Medical Supplies
You may not have access to your local pharmacy – or even a hospital – in a severe emergency – so be sure to keep these items in your emergency kit as well.
- prescription medicines (at least a week’s supply)
- non-prescription medicines (pain/fever reducers, cold medicine, etc.)
- medical equipment (manual wheelchair, cane, oxygen tank, eyeglasses, etc.)
3. Gather Important Identification and Medical Documents
Keep necessary documents in a waterproof container in your emergency kit.
- federal or state picture identification cards
- birth certificate
- social security card
- medical insurance cards
- physician’s and pharmacist’s contact information
- list of your required medications and dosages
- list of medicine and food allergies
- deeds to property
- emergency contact list
- recent photos (of yourself, your pets, and your designated contacts)
4. Designate Neighbors, Friends, and Family to Check On You in an Emergency
Be sure to have a friend or family member who will follow up with you in an emergency. Also, be sure you know your closest neighbors. They will most likely be able to check on you much sooner than friends or family. Consider giving them an extra key to your house and your vehicle.
5. Have an Evacuation Plan
In an emergency, local television and radio stations will broadcast information about nearby shelters and evacuation centers. Your phone book will also contain evacuation information as well. The person/s you’ve asked to check on you in an emergency should also know ahead of time the locations of your nearest hospital and evacuation centers, just in case they are unable to contact you to verify your location.
One last consideration that is often overlooked is the safety of your pets. Be sure to include food, water, medications, and transport containers for them as well, and have a caretaker designated for them if necessary.