Natural Disaster Emergency Preparedness Safety for Seniors

Written by Cari Tate

Share these safety tips with the seniors in your municipality.
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The Spring of 2019 has so far wreaked havoc across the nation. Dangerous flooding has destroyed homes and roads across the Midwest. Places like Davenport, Iowa have set new record-high flood levels—22.7 feet for Davenport as of May 7. Across the country, the Southeast is setting its own records—for sweltering heat. Over Memorial Day weekend, cities from North Carolina to Florida met or exceeded record highs, with Savannah, Georgia, and Gainesville, Florida both reaching 102 degrees. Meanwhile, Denver is experiencing its coldest May on record since 1995.

With extreme weather patterns becoming more unpredictable and more common every year, local government leaders must remain vigilant and have plans in place to keep citizens informed with safety tips, advice, and access to local resources. One of the most vulnerable populations in any community is its senior population. Share the following emergency preparedness tips with the seniors in your city or county and their caregivers to help them stay safe in any situation or battle with inclement weather.

Create and Store an Emergency Safety Kit

While some natural disasters come with days of advanced warning, others can hit unexpectedly. Every senior living alone should keep an emergency preparedness kit stocked and easily accessible that includes enough water and canned goods for at least three days. Click here for information on creating an emergency safety kit.

Create an Emergency Communication Plan

Everyone, of every age, should know whom to contact, and how, in the event of an emergency. Click here for information on creating a family emergency communication plan.

Safely Store Copies of Vital Documents

If a flood damages roads or a tornado knocks out power, a senior could find himself at home for several days without access to assistance. Ensure vital documents are stored in a safe, dry place, and can easily be shared with emergency responders or caregivers. Such records should include:

  • Contact information for all primary and specialty care providers and family members
  • A list of prescription and over-the-counter medications
  • Medical equipment orders, such as oxygen
  • Medical insurance, Medicare or Medicaid cards

Gather Extra Medical Supplies

Ensure you have extra medical supplies and on hand, if a disaster is imminent, such as:

  • Prescription Eyeglasses
  • Batteries for hearing aids or electronic wheelchairs
  • Ostomy supplies
  • Oxygen

Put an Emergency Access Plan in Place for Specialty Medications

In the event of a power outage that lasts several days, you may need to replenish refrigerated medications such as insulin. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist and ask about options and local resources for emergency access to refrigerated medicines.

Sign Up for Emergency Alerts

If a natural disaster, such as a tornado, is imminent or citizens are being asked to evacuate, the most effective way to stay informed is through a direct communication channel with your local government. If your community has an emergency alert system, sign up to receive notifications. Even if you do not have a mobile device, modern systems provide alerts via landline phone messages or email.

Sign up for Electronic Benefits

Many seniors rely on social security and pensions as their primary form of income. If you ever need to evacuate your home due to a natural disaster, or your mail delivery service is interrupted for a time, it could delay your access to your vital income. In advance of an emergency, ensure you are signed up for electronic benefit payments issued directly into your bank account.

Pet Supplies

Many seniors enjoy the company and companionship of pets in their homes. Ensure you have extra supplies for your dog or cat in your home, including extra food and water, to mitigate the additional anxiety of providing necessities for your furry companion during an emergency.

Build a Support Network

During a natural disaster, your ability to recovery will be expedited when neighbors help neighbors. Seniors should familiarize themselves with their neighbors, share contact information, and build a nearby support network so that they have the help they can rely on until family or caregivers can arrive. Trusted neighbors should consider exchanging keys so seniors know someone nearby can access their home and help them in an emergency.

For more information on critical communications with citizens during a natural disaster, click below to download our Natural Disaster Communication eBook. Designed for local government public safety officials, it has communication tips and preparation best practices for a wide variety of natural disaster emergencies.