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Disaster preparedness for older adults

As nature is hitting us with all forces across the nation; hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, and floods, a key resource for eldercare is an emergency supply kit.

Each older adult’s needs and abilities are unique, but every older adult can take important steps to prepare for all kinds of emergencies and put plans in place, even when residing in retirement community. Start by evaluating personal needs when making an emergency plan. A commitment to planning today will help prepare the older adult for any emergency situation. Consider how a disaster might affect your individual needs.

• Plan to make it on your own, at least for a period of time. It’s possible that you will not have access to a medical facility or even a drugstore.
• Identify what kind of resources you use on a daily basis and what you might do if they are limited or not available
• Get an emergency supply kit
• If you must evacuate and you have pets, take your pets with you. However, if you are going to a public shelter, it is important to understand that animals may not be allowed inside.
• Plan in advance for shelter alternatives that will work for both you and your pets; consider loved ones or friends outside of your immediate area who would be willing to host you and your pets in an emergency.

When preparing for a possible emergency situation, it’s best to think first about the basics of survival: fresh water, food, clean air, and warmth.

Recommended Items to Include in a Basic Emergency Supply Kit:

• 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
• Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
• Flashlight and extra batteries
• First aid kit
• Whistle to signal for help
• Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
• Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation
• Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
• Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
• Local maps more information

Medications and Medical Supplies

If you take medicine or use a medical treatment on a daily basis, be sure you have what you need to make it on your own for at least a week, maybe longer.

• Make a list of prescription medicines including dosage, treatment, and allergy information.
• Talk to your pharmacist or doctor about what else you need to prepare.
• If you undergo routine treatments administered by a clinic or hospital or if you receive regular services such as home health care, treatment, or transportation, talk to your service provider about their emergency plans. Work with them to identify back-up service providers and incorporate them into your personal support network.
• Consider other personal needs such as eyeglasses, hearing aids and hearing aid batteries, wheelchair batteries, and oxygen.
• Include copies of important documents in your emergency supply kits such as family records, medical records, wills, deeds, social security number, charge and bank accounts information, and tax records.

For more information on special needs, see Disaster Preparedness for People with Disabilities from FEMA, and Red Cross.

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