Disaster Preparedness for Seniors

Whether it’s an impending snowstorm, forest fires or flooding, there is no shortage of natural disasters in the news or on the horizon.  And seniors especially need to be well prepared in case they lose power or need to be evacuated. 

The American Red Cross recently worked with a group of older adults who lived through a two-week power outage as a result of an ice storm in the Rochester area of New York.  They brainstormed to put together an informational pamphlet that outlines important items to place in a disaster kit, how to stay informed during an emergency and what a disaster plan should include. 

In addition to water and food, flashlights and batteries, seniors should also pack their disaster kit with a spare pair of glasses, a full list of medications and the contact numbers and addresses for friends or family.  An out-of-town contact may be better able to coordinate assistance if they are not affected by the emergency.   A battery operated radio, with plenty of fresh batteries, will allow seniors to stay informed during a disaster situation.

Wheelchairs, canes, walkers, glasses and hearing aids should be placed where they can be found quickly in a designated spot such as the bedside table.  Elderly adults should also have a plan in place they have discussed with friends or family outlining escape routes, meeting places, safe places in the home and a plan for transportation.   A manual wheelchair is a good backup for a electric chair in case of a power failure. 

In cold climates, supply kits should also contain warm clothing, gloves, hats, boots and a sleeping bag or warm blanket.  Vehicles driving through snow and ice should be stocked with bottled water, flares, non-perishable snacks, a blanket, windshield brush and scraper, jumper cables, first aid kit and a flashlight.

Learn more about preparing for an emergency if you are an older adults or the loved one of a senior on the American Red Cross website by following this link.   The pamphlet can be downloaded and printed, complete with checklists.  For an online, printable and shareable medication checklist and other valuable tools for aging in place, register for a free membership of The Oldish