Disaster Preparedness for Seniors
Natural disasters are not fun for anyone. Unfortunately, they can be especially traumatizing for seniors. Older people are more frail and less mobile, making it a challenge for them to respond quickly. They may not always have the help they need immediately when they need it to escape a danger zone. The thought is frightening, but the good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to prepare yourself for possible emergencies if you're a senior. If you're a caretaker or a family member of a senior, you can also take measures to help him/her stay safe during dangerous natural disasters.
General Tips for Senior Safety & Emergency Preparedness
Identify Your Risks
The risks you need to be aware of will depend on the area you live in. Some areas are prone to flooding, while others are prone to fires and snow storms, for example. Of course, depending on the risks, you'll want to take appropriate measures to prepare for them.
Familiarize Yourself with Local Resources
What happens when a disaster strikes in your area? Do you know where to go and who to ask for help if needed? Whether you're a senior yourself or family/caregiver of one, it's essential to familiarize yourself with local resources before the emergency takes place. This way, you won't have to fumble around trying to find out what to do next or where to go. Most areas should have emergency shelter locations nearby. Identify those and write out a list of emergency contacts and addresses so that you have it all in one place. Keep this list somewhere safe and readily available to take with you in an emergency.
Click here for a Family Emergency Communication Plan Card (English)
Make an Emergency Kit:
Non-perishable foods - 3 DAYS WORTH
Bottled water - (IF YOU HAVE PETS, PACK GENEROUSLY)
Medication -3 DAYS WORTH
Pet food if you have pets - 3 DAYS WORTH
Spare keys to your house and car(s)
Glasses & spare contacts - CONTACT SOLUTION IF NEEDED
Swiss army knife
First aid kit
Cell phone charger
Spare hearing aid batteries - If you use a hearing aid
Battery powered radio
Once you've gathered everything, keep your kit somewhere easily accessible so that you know exactly where to grab it in the event of an emergency. If you have any pets, it is smart to keep their pet carriers and leashes easily reached and ready to go in case you need to take them with you quickly.
Prepare Emergency Kits for Them
In addition to 3 days worth of food and water for your pets as mentioned above, you'll also want to prepare a few more things just for them in the event of an emergency. This will help to cut down evacuation time and stress.
Pet Emergency Kit:
Collapsible water dishes and food bowls
2 week supply of any medications if your pet(s) is on any
Poop bags for easy clean-up
Scoopable litter if you have a cat
Liquid dish soap and disinfectant
Pet carrier or bag for each pet
Recent photos in case they get lost and you need to use photos for reference
Extra leash and harness if you have a dog
Disposable litter trays if you have a cat
Your pet's favorite toys
Do Not Leave Them Behind!
Remember that pets are family, which means they should not be left behind! Before leaving your residence, you'll want to make sure that you take them with you. If it isn't safe for you to be there, then it certainly isn't safe for them either. After you and your pets have evacuated safely, you may need to have a caregiver watch over them temporarily depending on your circumstances. If you don't have a caregiver available, then it's time to look into boarding facilities or vets that offer boarding services. Some animal shelters will gladly take in your pets during a disaster for the time being too. You'll want to check around your area and inquire so that you know exactly where to go if you need to find your four legged friends a temporary home.
Get Connected with your Neighbors
It never hurts to become connected with your neighbors, especially if you live alone. Chances are in an emergency, survival depends on teamwork and helping each other out. By building a support network where you live, your neighbors and local friends will know you exist and know to check up on you in the event of a disaster (and vice versa!).
Have your top emergency contacts on hand to provide to your neighbors in case they need to refer to them in any emergency, along with a list of medications, special needs, and allergies you may have.