Disaster Planning for Seniors
Disasters of all kinds affect older adults disproportionately hard, especially those with chronic diseases, disabilities, or conditions that require extra assistance to leave an unsafe area, says Christopher Hansen, AARP Group Executive Officer. The diseases of concern are: heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and stroke, and about 50 percent of this population have at least two chronic diseases.
We know that 80 percent of adults over the age of 65 have at least one chronic disease. That alone could make older adults more vulnerable during a disaster. We learned from Hurricane Katrina that roughly 71 percent of the victims were older than 60, and 47 percent were over the age of 75.
There are commonsense measures older Americans can take to start preparing for emergencies before they happen. Planning and preparation should be done now. Creating a network of neighbors, relatives, and friends to aid you in an emergency is easy to accomplish if you have a list of their phone numbers, email addresses and home and work addresses and phone numbers readily available.
While each person’s abilities and needs are unique, below are lists of common things we all need to store. The Department of Homeland Security and FEMA recommend the following items to have at home at all times:
- Water: one gallon of water per person, per day, for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
- Food: at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Manual can opener for food
- Pet food and extra water for your pet
- Prescription medications for at least 3 days, as well as aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids, and laxatives
Health and Safety
- Prescribed medical supplies such as insulin, glucose, and blood pressure monitoring equipment and supplies
- Extra oxygen tanks and a generator if you are on continuous O2.
- Emergency first aid book
- A basic first aid kit that contains items used to: help stop bleeding, clean wounds, cover burns and has bandages and eye wash, scissors, and Band-Aids
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted, nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. In an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe, or bleaches with added cleaners.
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
- Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants, and sturdy shoes
- An extra pair of glasses
- Paper cups, plates, paper towels, and plastic utensils
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Fire extinguisher, candles, matches in a waterproof container
- Cell phone, with wall charger and car charger
- Battery-powered or hand-cranked radio, and extra batteries
- A NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert, and extra batteries
- Computer, laptop, or tablet for communication via messaging or email
- Flashlight, and extra batteries
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust mask to help filter contaminated air
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
Other items to be kept in a waterproof, portable container,
- Important family documents such as copies of birth certificates, marriage and divorce records, insurance policies, your Living Will, etc.
- Social Security, bank account details, and credit card numbers and records
- A list of all current medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.
- Cash or traveler’s checks
- Paper and pencil as well as books, games, puzzles and other diversions
Always being prepared can be a life saver!