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Emergency Preparedness for Seniors and Caregivers
Natural disasters are stressful, especially for seniors. Fortunately, planning goes a long way. Running drills and having an emergency kit ready to go means you’re two steps closer to surviving a disaster intact. Don’t waste critical minutes panicking. Plan now!
Seniors are more vulnerable in emergencies, our population is aging rapidly. Right now, one out of every 10 persons is 60 years or above and many of our seniors have physical disabilities or conditions that affect their mobility and their agility...Special measures need to be taken to ensure that our seniors do evacuate safely or have the proper information for them to be able to weather whatever the storm might be.
- Jim Judge, Chair of the American Red Cross' Disaster Health Subcommittee
The risks to be aware of depend on the area you live in. Some areas are prone to flooding, while others are prone to fires and snowstorms, for example.
Enter your ZIP code here to get a good idea of the risks in your area. King County, Washington, is at medium risk of earthquake, snowfall, and avalanche disasters. It is at low risk of flood, tornado, wildfire, landslide, and heatwave disasters. There’s no risk from hurricanes, droughts, and volcanoes.
Meanwhile, Hudson, New Jersey, has high flood risks. It is at medium risk of hurricane, earthquake, heatwave, and snowfall disasters. Tornadoes, wildfires, and landslides pose low risks. There is no risk from droughts, avalanches, and volcanoes.
What happens when a disaster strikes? Do you know where to go and who to ask for help if needed? Whether you're a senior or a caregiver, it's essential to familiarize yourself with local resources before an emergency occurs. This way, you won't fumble around trying to find out what to do next or where to go. It may make sense to invest in a medical alert system so that you can summon help quickly.
Most areas have emergency shelter locations. Identify those and write a list of emergency contacts and addresses. Keep this list somewhere safe and available to take with you in an emergency. Keep an electronic version as well, for example, in your smartphone contacts with “911” included in each entry. Gather contact information for your local:
- Fire Department
- Police Department
- Animal Control
- Water Supplier
- Power Supplier
- Poison Control
- Animal Control
A solid plan is the most pivotal part of surviving an emergency. Disasters often strike unexpectedly, making it hard to think and act logically. Create an emergency plan that is easy to follow and that works for the types of disasters in your area. Keep the plan somewhere accessible and include these elements:
- Communication plan with your family and caregivers so that you won't lose touch with the ones you love in any emergency.
- Safe and easy escape routes in case of fire or flood. Your plan should detail how to escape from each room in your home so that no matter what room you're in, you have an idea of what to do in case of an emergency. It's best to have more than one route option to be safe.
- What to do next after escaping -- where to go and who to call for help if needed.
- Emergency contacts, their addresses, and their phone numbers.