Natural disasters are stressful for anyone, regardless of age. Unfortunately, if you’re a senior, they might present greater challenges for you. You may have less mobility, or poor health, making it a challenge for you to respond quickly. The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to prepare yourself for possible emergencies.
This guide will cover a handy checklist of items to have and bring with you in the event of an emergency, as well as some advice on further resources.
First things first, you’ll want to be aware of what risks are more common in the area you live in. Some areas are prone to flooding, others to fires or snowstorms, for example. You’ll want to keep this in mind when considering what should go in your kit.
Emergency Kit Checklist
This is a basic overview of what every emergency kit should contain. Please visit Ready.gov to view the government’s comprehensive checklist, as well as how to maintain and store your kit.
- Non-perishable foods (at least 3 days worth)
- Can opener
- Bottled water (if you have pets, pack generously)
- Medication (a week’s worth)
- Spare clothing and shoes
- Pet food, if applicable
- Spare keys to your home and car(s)
- Glasses and spare contacts
- Waterproof matches
- Swiss army knife
- First aid kit
- Common toiletries (you can buy small travel kits at the grocery store for ease)
- Emergency blankets (you can buy them in packs), as well as fabric blankets if desired
- Cell phone charger
- Spare hearing aid batteries, if applicable
- Battery powered radio
- Extra batteries
- Moist towelettes and garbage bags
- A backpack, tote, or other sturdy container for your kit
Familiarize Yourself with Local Resources
What happens when a disaster strikes in your area? Do you know where to go and who to ask for help if needed? It’s essential to familiarize yourself with local resources before the emergency takes place. This way, you won’t have to fumble around trying to find out what to do next or where to go.
Most areas should have emergency shelter locations nearby. Identify those and write out a list of emergency contacts and addresses so that you have it all in one place. Keep this list safe inside your disaster kit. In addition to emergency shelter locations near you, you may want to also consider gathering contact information for your local:
- Fire and police department
- Water and power suppliers
- Poison control
Get Your Plan in Place
The most pivotal part to surviving an emergency is having a solid plan. Write one that’s easy to follow and keep it somewhere accessible. When creating a plan, you may want to consider including information on:
- A 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. It’s best to have more than one route option figured out.
- What to do next after escaping — where to go and who to call for help if needed.
- Where to keep your emergency kit so that you can grab it quickly when needed
Disasters are usually not avoidable or predictable. With that said, it’s important to be fully prepared ahead of time. This is true for all of us, but senior citizens will especially benefit from taking matters into their own hands earlier on as they may not have the ability to escape an emergency as quickly. Remember that when an emergency strikes, time is of essence!
Red Cross – Find out more on why it’s so important to have a personal support network when you’re a senior preparing for any emergency.
FEMA – Review additional tips for emergency preparedness. These pointers are great for both family and caregivers of seniors to keep in mind too.
Insurance Information Institute – Learn more about the importance of home insurance and the different options available to seniors.