Every adult should be aware of the potential disasters where they live and also have plans in place to deal with you, but senior citizens in particular can be more vulnerable and may need more help planning. The steps below should provide a simple way of being prepared for any emergency.
1 – Assess the common risks near your home
It saves time when you are aware of the likely disasters in your area so you can prepare for them, as opposed to situations that are incredibly rare.
Think about what common risks are in your city or state:
Most of us need to prepare for some of these, but almost no one has to worry about all of them. All the preparation discussed below should be with the specific threats in mind.
2 – Know your local resources
Depending on the type of disaster, there may be a designated evacuation center or community center that will be set up for relief. It’s also important to know where local hospitals and other critical services are located, especially for those new to an area.
Keep a list of contact information for reference:
- Local Emergency Management Office
- County Law Enforcement
- County Public Safety Fire/Rescue
- State, County and City/Town Government
- Local Hospitals
- Local Utilities
- Local American Red Cross
- Local TV Stations
- Local Radio Stations
- Your Property Insurance Agent
- Medical Transportation Companies
For more tips and further information on local risks and relief, the FEMA website at Ready.gov is a great resource.
3 – Prepare an emergency plan for the relevant potential disasters
You, and your family members, should come up with an emergency plan in advance. You may not be with your family when an emergency occurs, so they must be aware of how to contact you if necessary.
In some cases, you may need to shelter yourself within your own home. If the air outside is contaminated, it may be necessary to remain indoors. It is a good idea to pre-cut plastic sheeting, in case the doors, windows, and vents need to be covered.
The nearest evacuation/community centers should be located in advance. You should consider using these places as drop-off or meeting locations with friends and family if such an event occurs.
In case you need to leave town, you should plan ahead on methods of transportation you can take. Drivers should store an extra canister of gas, and should identify necessary evacuation routes on a map. Everyone should have passports and/or state identification in easy access in case they need to travel far.
4 – Establish a Personal Support Network
Even if you are self-sufficient, it is still a good idea for you to contact others and form a personal support network. This network could include family, friends, doctors, personal attendants, neighbors, co-workers or anyone they may feel comfortable with. It should include local members, as well as some out-of-town. These people should exchange phone numbers, email addresses and street addresses between others in the network.
You should show members of your networks where you store emergency supplies. Everyone should exchange copies of important emergency documents, emergency health contacts, and information and any evacuation plans.
People who are in each other’s support networks should let one another know when they leave town. If an event occurs where you must leave for an evacuation/community center, you should be sure to contact someone from your personal support network so that others would not try to find you at home.
If you use medical equipment such as a wheelchair, you should inform people of how to operate it. If you take any medications that require a special process, you must let others know.
5 – Make plans for pets as well
If you have a pet, it’s important to consider their needs when developing an evacuation plan or emergency routine. Start by making sure each pet has an up-to-date ID tag.
You should assume that if you are being evacuated that your pet would be coming with you. If you live in an area that can flood, it would be wise to consider where you might ride the storm out, whether it’s a family member’s place in another area, or a pet-friendly hotel in a safer locale.
Read more about disaster preparation for pets.
6 – Social Security & Other Payments
If you receive Social Security, other regular payments or withdrawals from retirement accounts, consider having it paid electronically. This can help to ensure that payments continue to provide a steady income should you not be able to return home to receive mailed payments.
Social Security direct deposits can be initiated by calling 1-800-333-1795, or by visiting GoDirect.org.
Resources for further reading
- For additional advice, visit Ready.gov, or call 1-800-BE-READY
- To read more about creating a personal support network, read: www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/seniors
While disasters can be a frightening thought, being prepared will go a long way in easing your fears. In our next article we will discuss how to prepare an emergency kit that will sustain you, should the need arise.