Emergency Preparedness for Seniors

Blizzards, hurricanes, and other incidents can affect your home and leave you without essential services such as electricity or potable water. While these services can often be restored fairly quickly, you’ll want to make sure you have a plan in place to get through an emergency situation.

All homes can benefit from having emergency supplies available. A basic emergency kit can include a flashlight and extra batteries, a radio powered by batteries or a hand crank, a first aid kit, and enough water and nonperishable food to last a few days.

Emergency Preparedness for SeniorsSeniors will want to make sure they have an adequate supply of any necessary medications. Your kit should have a full list of any medications you are taking, as well as contact information for your physicians and pharmacy. Set aside at least one week of medications for the kit, and make sure they are stored properly. Note the expiration date of any stored medication so you can refresh this supply before it becomes unusable.

You should have an extra supply of any other essential items as well. These might include oxygen tanks or batteries for a wheelchair or hearing aid.

Have copies available for any important documents, such as wills, Medicare information, and power of attorney information. These should be stored in a safe location, such as a waterproof container or fireproof safe.

Create a plan for what you will do in the event of an emergency. Set up a communications network with family or friends so they can check in with you in the event of a disaster. People in this network should have your phone number and e-mail address, and at least one person should have a spare key to your home.

The network should improve any caregivers as well. An emergency can interrupt routine medical appointments, and your physician can advise you on visiting backup providers or otherwise continuing your care.

Let your local emergency services know about your needs, especially if you live in a rural area. If these services are aware of your situation, they will be better prepared to render aid after a disaster.

With your communications network, establish what steps you will take in the event of an emergency. The plan should be flexible; you might be able to shelter in place at your home during some situations, but other times it will be better to evacuate to a shelter.

If you have pets, don’t forget to prepare them for an emergency as well. Have a supply of pet food and medications on hand, and check with local emergency officials to find out where pets can be sheltered.

Setting up an electronic payment plan for your benefits will let you avoid any disruption to mail delivery in your area. This step can also eliminate the risk that a check will be stolen from your mailbox.

Disasters can occur unexpectedly, but most severe weather events will be preceded by several days of warnings. Keep up with the news to be aware of approaching storms. Smartphone apps are also available to alert you to the possibility of hazardous weather.

For more information on emergency preparedness, visit the websites of the American Red Cross and Federal Emergency Management Agency