Disaster Preparedness for Seniors
April showers might bring May flowers, but the season also brings with it unpredictable weather. One day it’s sunny and spring is in the air, and the next the storm clouds roll in and the winds kick up, making it hard to go about daily life outside the home.
The fickle nature of weather events can make it hard for seniors to know the right steps to take, so flexibility is key in such events. Here, tips for seniors and their families during uncertain times:
- Make a plan. For seniors, having a plan in place when inclement weather strikes is the first step toward ensuring their safety. Know which friends and family are closest and are able to get to the senior’s home in case of emergency. Have the numbers of local emergency services such as police, fire department and hospital readily available. Keep a list of medications handy so friends and family can easily gather what seniors need in case you have to be moved from your home to safer ground.
- Put together an emergency kit. We’re not talking band-aids and bottled water (though those items are important, too!) — a well-stocked emergency kit is essential when disaster strikes. Make sure it’s always stored in the same place, which makes it easier to locate when it’s needed. The Red Cross also suggests putting the emergency kit on wheels so it’s easy to maneuver, and labeling it with an ID tag.1 As to what should be included in the kit, three days worth of supplies are suggested, including food, water, a flashlight with batteries, cash, an emergency blanket, a whistle, pet supplies and personal documents. See a complete list.
- Know potential home hazards. Weather events have the potential to do major damage to homes, inside and out. Know where electrical, gas and water shut-offs are — if seniors themselves are not able to access them, they can still point family or care team members in the right direction. Make sure copies of home insurance papers are included in the emergency kit!2 High winds can throw outdoor equipment around yards, damaging landscaping or worse — the home itself. Tie down or contain pieces as possible, or store them in a garage, if available.
- Have your finances in order. With Social Security payments now electronic, senior should ensure all of their account information is up-to-date. If power or phone lines are down, it can be a challenge to make account changes should there be any hiccups to receiving funds.3
- Have an evacuation route. Meteorological technology today provides the ability to see weather events as they’re developing and accurately predict when they might hit a specific area. This is good news for seniors, who may need help getting out of a storm’s way before it lands. Establish a route to a safer location, whether that’s a friend or family member’s house or elsewhere, including transportation to get a senior from his or her home to the second location.