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Emergency Preparedness For The Elderly: Tips From The CDC & American Red Cross

Emergency Preparedness for the Elderly: Tips from the CDC & American Red Cross

Emergencies and natural disasters can affect anyone at any time. Depending on the type of emergency, people’s lives could be put at serious risk, not to mention the possible damage to property. 

Being prepared for an emergency situation is always important. However, as you get older, your preparation plan might look a bit different. Factors like reduced mobility and chronic illness can come into play. 

Thankfully, the American Red Cross and the CDC have specialized suggestions for older adults when it comes to preparing for a natural disaster or other emergency. With a bit of help from these tips, you can rest assured knowing you’re ready to face whatever comes your way. 

Inform Yourself

Before you can prepare for an emergency, you’ll need to know what types of emergencies are most likely in your area. For example, the most common natural disaster in some regions might be earthquakes, while other regions need to watch out for tornadoes or tropical storms. 

There are also many emergency situations that can occur outside of natural disasters, such as house fires or gas leaks. Get in touch with specialists in the fields of fire safety and gas safety to learn how you can keep your home safe from these dangerous outcomes. 

Do some research to find out what kinds of natural disasters are most and least common where you live. While you’re researching this topic, you’ll likely find some information about your city’s evacuation plans in the event of a natural disaster as well as local shelters that will be available if needed. 

In many areas, you can sign up online to receive alerts from the city or county if a natural disaster is at high risk of occurring or has already occurred. Additionally, if you’d like to be extra prepared, many retirement communities and local recreational facilities offer classes for CPR, first aid, and other life-saving actions. 

Make an Emergency Plan

If an emergency takes place, you’ll experience a lot of fear and panic, which can make problem-solving difficult. That’s why it’s crucial to craft a plan beforehand that you can execute without having to think too much.

You may have to create a few different plans depending on the type of emergency. For example, your priority in a house fire should be to get to safety as soon as possible, but your plan of action during a snowstorm might be to gather the materials you’ll need to safely stay put. 

Write out step-by-step plans for each possible situation and take note of exactly what supplies you’ll need.

Many older folks living in retirement communities require certain medications, some of which need to be kept cold. Make sure you include this detail in your emergency plan and ensure that your essential medicines will be kept cold with a generator or battery-powered cooler.

Part of your emergency preparedness process should be to acquire the right insurance plans. Now that you know what kinds of natural disasters are most common in your area, you can insure your home and belongings against these occurrences as well as other common home emergencies. 

Put Together a Supply Kit

Once you have your detailed plans written out, it’s time to gather the supplies you’ll need. If you are unable to gather your supplies yourself, don’t hesitate to ask a family member or other caregiver to help you. 

Many different kinds of emergencies can cut off your home’s supply of electricity or water. This possibility is why having at least three days’ worth of bottled drinking water and non-perishable food in your home is one of the most basic parts of any emergency supply kit. 

Try to store at least this much food and water for each individual who lives in your home. Once your food and water are stored, take note of other essentials, such as medications, medical supplies, hearing aids, and glasses. 

If your items need to be stored in any specific way, create a backup plan to make that possible without electricity or water. If any of your medical supplies run on batteries, keep as many extras as you can at the ready. 

Additionally, make sure your important documents are in a safe place. A fireproof safe is the optimal way to store these items. These documents could include your ID, birth certificate, passport, and all of your insurance paperwork. 

Recognize Your Network of Support

Having supportive players ready is crucial when it comes to emergency planning for seniors. 

Create a list of names and phone numbers you can call at a moment’s notice, including nearby family members, friends, caregivers, or medical personnel. This step is especially important for individuals with reduced mobility as well as those in memory care communities. 

How to Respond and Recover After an Emergency

If an emergency happens, trust your plan and move quickly to get out of harm’s way. If your home is damaged, wait until the proper authorities say it’s safe to come back. 

As soon as you can, take as many pictures as possible of any damage for insurance purposes. Whoever you called for assistance will also be able to help with this step. Don’t try to remove any debris yourself, and let the professionals handle the cleanup. 

The best-case scenario is that an emergency will never happen. However, if you’re properly prepared, your chances of navigating the situation safely are much higher. 

Additional Resources:

If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation.  Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.

Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia CareBed & Wheelchair Transfer AssistanceCompanionshipHousekeeping & Meal PreparationPersonal CareRecovery Care, and Transportation.

Serving the San Francisco Bay Area and Greater San Diego, Family Matter In-Home Care has offices throughout California including: Campbell, CARoseville, CASan Marcos, CA, and San Mateo, CA.

Carol Pardue-Spears

Carol has worked in the healthcare field for more than forty years. As a Certified Nursing Assistant, she worked for El Camino Hospital in the cardiac unit, Los Gatos Community Hospital, The Women’s Cancer Center in Los Gatos and several home health and hospice agencies. Carol founded Family Matters in 2002 to fill a deficit she witnessed in high-quality, in-home services and care.

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