Seniors and Emergency Preparedness
Disaster comes in many forms: hurricanes, tornadoes, environmental crises and terrorist attacks. And they all come with little warning, if any. You and your family are likelier to do better, or even survive, depending on how much preparation you have made. Senior citizens especially need to be aware of what they should do before disaster strikes. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (www.fema.gov) offers some strategies:
Assemble Your Supplies You need to plan to survive independently for at least three days. You might not be able to get to a hospital or any other health care facility. The FEMA experts suggest two kits: one that has everything you need to stay in place, and the other, a more lightweight one, to take if you need to leave your home.
Suggestions for your basic supplies include one gallon of water per person per day; a supply of non-perishable food; a battery- or hand-powered radio; flashlight; extra batteries; a whistle; moist towelettes and garbage bags.
If you take medicine or use a medical treatment, the experts say, have what you need for at least a week. Keep a copy of prescriptions as well. If you undergo regular treatment at a health care facility, ask your providers what emergency plans they have.
Include documents such as Medicare/Medicaid cards; social security numbers; and credit card information.
Create A Network
As you get older, it’s more important than ever to have a support network. The FEMA experts suggest you identify those would help you in an emergency. If you use handicap accessible transportation, determine what could be used as a backup. Share your plans with family, friends and care providers.
Think about whether you will decide to stay or go. The FEMA experts recommend considering what you can do to stay safely “in place” alone or with other people. Keep up with television or radio reports.
If you are given an evacuation order, follow the authorities’ instructions. Otherwise, consider ahead of time several routes you can take out of the area.
Don’t Forget About Your Animal Companions
Advance plans should be made for pets and service animals. If possible, take your pet with you. But, the FEMA experts caution, if you go to a shelter, only service animals may be allowed inside. See if there are any pet-friendly shelters in your area.
Contact Your Local Emergency Information Management Office
Some offices have registers of older people so they can be located and helped. Contact your local emergency management agency to see if these services exist where you live, or visit www.ready.gov for links to government offices in your area.
For more information on preparedness, visit www.ready.gov.