In the event of an emergency – whether it’s a flood, tornado, power outage, or civil strife – seniors are especially vulnerable. That why emergency preparedness is so vital for seniors. In fact, the American Red Cross recommends that seniors have a support network that they can call on in the event of an emergency, as well as a survival kit and an emergency plan to put into place should disaster strike.
First, how can a support network help you in case of an emergency? Composing a network of friends, neighbors, relatives, or caretakers and instructing them to check in on you in the wake of a disaster could save your life. In case you are incapacitated at home after the disaster, be sure to share a key with these trusted individuals, and let them know they can enter your residence if they fear for your safety. In a disaster, telephones may not be working, so it’s important to build a network of people close enough to you to take action should you need assistance.
Those in your network should also have access to the documentation you may need in case of emergency, including your list of medications, any other emergency contacts you may have, and your identity documents in case they are lost during a natural disaster or fire. Let your network know what your daily schedule is like, and when you’ll be out of town. This will make it easier for them to find you in the event of an emergency.
While a network like this can save your life, it’s also important that you are prepared to meet the challenges of a disaster on your own in case help may be slow to reach you. Weather events such as heavy snowfall or tornadoes can make roads impassable. So in addition to a support network, remember these three things to ensure emergency preparedness:
Build a Disaster Kit
Ensure that you have enough supplies in your home to weather through a disaster for at least three days. That means enough food and water to last you in the event that you are unable to leave the house due to poor road conditions. Water is especially important to have on hand in case water service is disrupted. Keep your supplies in an easy to carry bag, or a container with wheels, and be sure to label it clearly with your name. Ensure you have batteries, any medications you need, and toiletries, too.
Create a Plan
Post emergency numbers and medication lists in an easy-to-find area in your home. If you have pets, create a plan for their care in the event of an evacuation. If you have an assistive device, such as a cane or walker, place it in an area where it’s easy to get to. Investing in a device that is easy to fold up and store at a shelter or during a long ride should you be evacuated is also recommended.
Many communities have disaster communication plans. Most radio and television channels will use an Emergency Alert System to get out vital news. Some communities have emergency personnel who go door-to-door to keep you informed. Those who live in senior communities should talk to their community managers or counselors to find out about their community’s disaster plan.
For more information about creating your own emergency preparedness plan, download this guide from the American Red Cross, which includes tips like these as well as helpful checklists for you and your loved ones.