Earthquakes, Tornadoes Highlight Need for Senior Disaster Preparedness

The San Francisco earthquake and recent tornadoes that tore their way through the Midwest are grim reminders of how quickly we can fall victim to natural disasters. Seniors often find themselves especially vulnerable. Perhaps they live alone and family is not nearby to help ensure their safety. They may become confused and panic without a clear plan of action. The time to map a strategy and lay in supplies is before they are needed.

The American Red Cross has published a handy document entitled, “Disaster Preparedness For Seniors By Seniors.” Written by a group of seniors who experienced a two-week power outage after an ice storm hit upstate New York, the booklet addresses the disaster planning tips for seniors with varying degrees of limitations. Whether the older adult is healthy and agile or limited in physical capabilities, everyone should take the necessary precautions and make plans to prepare for any emergency.

The Red Cross Disaster Plan has three main components:
  1. Build and Maintain a Kit: Designate a duffel bag as the go-to kit for three days worth of survival essentials. This would include water, non-perishable food, flashlight and batteries, a first-aid kit and medication, and some cash and coins. The Red Cross list is extensive but it covers all possible needs.
  2. Make a Plan: Planning ahead reduces anxiety if disaster strikes. Designate a family member, friend orcaregiver to be a point person to check in during time of disaster. There should also be an out-of-town contact person--someone who won’t be directly affected by a local event. Plan evacuation routes and meeting places if friends and family cannot be reached.
  3. Be Informed: Assess your community. Tsunamis do not occur in Ohio, but home fires can happen anywhere. Investigate what plans the community has in place and where they offer shelter. Find your local Red Cross before you need them. Also, help others be aware and make their own evacuation plans.
Scam artists love to prey on those affected by disasters, when victims are at their most vulnerable. Be on your guard. Planning ahead can reduce the instances of relying on strangers when susceptible and unprotected. Visit the Red Cross site for more information on preparing for the unexpected and check with your own State’s Services to research what assistance is available to seniors during a crisis.

My mother always told me, Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

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Comments (1) -

  • nurse Maria

    3/7/2012 6:44:03 PM | Reply

    This is a great idea. The pamphlet is very helpful--thank you for the link. I'm going to pack a bag for mom and one for myself. We live in tornado alley, so you never know. The weather this year has been so unpredictable! I'll sleep better knowing we have planned for the worst.

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