Surviving a natural disaster is difficult for persons of any age, notably for those 65+ who are still living at home. In addition to the initial disaster itself, the aftermath can be much worse for the elderly. Their physical and mental limitations should also be taken into consideration.
Many seniors also have special daily medication, nutrition, and other care requirements. These needs have to be addressed to ensure their safety and wellbeing. If you are currently caring for a senior, it’s so important to help them prepare in advance for the unexpected. This is especially true if they live far away. To help ensure that they’re ready, use these proven disaster preparedness tips.
Develop an Emergency Plan
Sit down with your senior loved one(s) and discuss what would happen in the event of a disaster. What if the power was off for several days, or even weeks? Think about situations when essential banking, grocery, and communication services are all unavailable. If their home isn’t badly damaged, will they try to stay put, or move to another location? Once you’ve discussed all those scenarios, develop an emergency plan that includes these 4 components:
1. Mobile disaster preparedness kit
According to FEMA, all persons should keep an easily accessible emergency kit in their homes containing the following:
- Nonperishable food items and bottled water for at least 3 days
- Flashlights, a transistor radio and batteries
- Personal hygiene products
- Extra car and house keys
In addition, people aged 65-and-over should include in their emergency kits:
- Medication lists and physician information
- An in case of emergency (ICE) contact list
- Copies of important documents like their birth certificate, insurance policies, deed to the home (if applicable), designated power-of-attorney, etc.
All disaster preparedness items should be packed safely in waterproof, lightweight duffle bags or containers on wheels.
2. Involve trusted family members
If the senior that you’re assisting is your parent, their emergency plan should be shared with other trusted family members. Designate an evacuation rendezvous point, and identify potential modes of communication and transportation if essential utilities, roads and phone communications are out. Family members entrusted with this information should all be tagged as “ICE” contacts in your loved one’s phone. They should also be included on a written ICE list tucked away in the senior’s mobile preparedness kit.
3. Determine their daily care needs
As was mentioned earlier, many seniors have specific daily care needs that must be met. Essential medical equipment and supplies should be labeled with their contact information. This will eliminate confusion for first responders and rescue personnel. Medication bottles should be stored in water-tight baggies or containers, and stowed away safely in their mobile disaster kit.
4. Remember their pets
Don’t ignore service animals and other pets when devising your disaster preparedness plan. Food, water and vaccination records for their pets should be included in the senior’s emergency kit. All animals also need to be wearing ID tags.