Thursday, August 21, 2014

How Should Senior Citizens Prepare for a Disaster?

By Carol Grinage, volunteer contributor

August 21st is Senior Citizen Day! It is a day to celebrate our older generations; the contributions they've made and the roles they have in our lives. It is also a day to remember to take care and think of them. With disasters occurring daily throughout the world, it is important to remember that our older generations should be just as prepared.



How do senior citizens prepare for a disaster? When I first mentioned this topic to my mother, she became angry, and she said, “Senior citizens don’t prepare any differently than other people.”

I respectfully disagreed and mentioned the number of senior citizens who died in the Chicago heatwave years ago.

My mom, then, regretfully agreed, “Yes, we do have to consider our lives today. We still think we are 20 and can do everything that we used to do until an emergency occurs, and we realize that we don’t have the same bodies that we had at 20 and can’t do the things we used to be able to easily do.”

After some discussion and research, here are some ways seniors can prepare for a disaster.

  1. Prepare an Emergency Kit
  2. Make a Plan
  3. Be Informed

Prepare Your Kit

Make an emergency kit. Put medications, identification, contact phone numbers, prescriptions, and vital information in this kit. Also, put enough food, water, and medical supplies for three days in it.

Because this kit may be heavy, it is better to put it in smaller bags that may have wheels. Make sure that you put your name on it and on any wheelchairs, canes, or walkers or any items that will not be placed in the kit.

Make a Plan

You may not think a disaster will occur in your area, but you never know. As the saying goes, “Better safe than sorry”. When an emergency does occur, you will be glad that you have a plan in place.

Discuss your action plan with family members and have at least one emergency contact who does not live in the area. This contact is necessary because quite often it is the local phone service that may not work, but you will be able to contact someone outside of the area. This person will need to know your whereabouts and contact information.

In addition, plan a meeting place whether it is a shelter or someone’s home. If you no longer drive, plan transportation; whether it is emergency senior transportation or a friend or relative who will pick you up. If possible, car pool so that people are not searching for one another.

Where will your pets go in an emergency? Quite often people don’t consider their pets in the emergency plan, and sadly, some people don’t seek shelter for them during an emergency. Before an emergency happens, see where you can shelter your pet until you return home if an evacuation becomes necessary.

Be Informed
What emergency is most likely to happen in your community?
Earthquake? Hurricane? Winter storm? Flood? Tornado?

Think about what type of emergency is most likely to occur, and base your plans on that type of emergency.

Also, how will you be notified of an emergency? Will it be on the television? Radio? Community alarm system? Phone call? Determine how your community warns people of a possible disaster, and make sure you have a system in place so that you will be alerted.

If you are in a retirement community, check to see what plans are in place. Sometimes, the community has already established emergency procedures and a safe place for residents. See if this information is available.

When to Prepare

The best time to prepare for an emergency is before it happens. Discuss plans with friends and family. If you no longer drive, make sure you have transportation arranged and a safe place in mind. Lastly, update your emergency kit every six months and throw out any expired food or medication. Also, review your emergency plans a few times a year to make sure contact information and shelters have not changed.

Go to RedCross.org/Prepare for more information!

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