How to prepare for emergencies and natural disasters: 3 important steps for older adults
From floods to wildfires, hurricanes to tornados, disasters happen. At CCA, we want to help you prepare for these emergencies, and the best time to do that is before a disaster occurs.
Emergencies and natural disasters can impact both your short-term safety and your long-term health. So, disaster preparedness includes keeping you and your family safe from immediate danger. It also includes advance planning to address what happens after the disaster. Whether you shelter in place or evacuate to a safer area, being prepared can help you maintain your health and quality of life in the aftermath.
For example, a loss of electricity can bring about negative health outcomes for older adults with chronic conditions such as diabetes, cancer, or heart disease. A disaster can impact access to health care, the ability to take medications on schedule, and the ability to use necessary medical equipment.
The need for mental health services also rises following a natural disaster. Losing one’s home is incredibly difficult and can contribute to anxiety and depression.
To help you plan, we’ve created this guide, so you are prepared with the necessary essentials and communications when emergencies arise.
Develop a Care Plan
If you require medical attention during a disaster, having vital medical information with you and readily available can help your care team when treating you. This list is not only helpful in a disaster, but any time you are seeing a healthcare provider.
While having this information in your phone or device is convenient, having a written plan during an emergency is crucial. Your plan should include the following:
- Medication list. The list should include all prescription and over-the-counter medications you are taking and the dosages, as well as any dietary supplements.
- Pharmacy information. Include your pharmacy name, address, and phone number as well. Develop a plan for how and where you can access and/or refill prescriptions in an emergency.
- Medical conditions and allergies. Be sure to identify any conditions you have, such as diabetes or cancer, and any allergies, such as aspirin or penicillin.
- Doctors list. Include the names and contact information of your doctors, including specialists.
- Insurance information. Include your health plan name and account/member identification number.
Communication and Directions
During an emergency, having the information you need at your fingertips can help ease some of the stress and fear. Advance preparation will help ensure you are able to stay in touch with and connected to loved ones and neighbors.
- Where to shelter. Develop a list of the available local community shelters so you know where you can quickly find shelter should you need it.
- Contact information. Have a printed copy of your key contacts’ names and phone numbers, just in case your device’s battery is exhausted.
- Create a plan with your family. Each member of your immediate household should know what to do in the event of a disaster. Discuss how to prepare for and respond to the types of emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live and work. While house fires, lightning strikes and windstorms can and do happen everywhere, other events such as earthquakes and hurricanes are more common in other areas of the country. It’s important Identify the responsibilities for each member of the family and plan how you will work together as a team. Of course, you should practice with your family so everyone knows what to do should a crisis occur.
- Plan with your neighbors. Create a plan to check on one another when emergencies arise and have a list of names and phone numbers available.
Create an Emergency Kit
When a natural disaster or other crisis happens, having an emergency kit ready to go is so important for your safety and well-being. When creating an emergency kit, we encourage you to focus on what you need to maintain your quality of life and support your overall wellness for any length of displacement, from a few days to long-term. That means thinking about your physical health but also your mental health—be sure to pack items that can ensure both safety and comfort, including:
- A 3-day supply of medicines, vitamins, and supplements
- Copy of your ID and medical cards
- Printed information on your medications, health conditions/allergies and list of doctors and any medical equipment you use, including model numbers
- Shelf-stable foods that you enjoy and are used to eating, such as protein or energy bars, canned goods, and dried foods
- Manual can opener
- Water (one gallon per person per day for drinking and hygiene)
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Hygiene products such as soap, shampoo, toothbrush, and paste, etc.
- Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes, and diaper rash cream
- First aid kit and other health-related necessities such as sun protection, pain relievers, etc.
- Pet-related items, including bedding, food, medications, and proof of rabies vaccination
- Extra chargers for phones, medical devices, computers, or tablets
- Copies of personal documents such as bank records, homeowner’s insurance policy credit cards, passports, etc. in a waterproof pouch, or digitally saved on a portable device
- Change of clothing for each person
- Extra cash
- Blankets, pillows, robes, and even your favorite slippers
- Favorite books, games, puzzles, or other activities for adults and children
- Fans, sound machines, or other sleep aids
- Extra set of glasses in case your first pair is lost or damaged; contact lens solution
- Cooler and ice packs for anything that needs to be kept cold
8:00 am to 8:00 pm ET, Monday through Friday, and 8:00 am to 6:00 pm ET, Saturday and Sunday