Top 5 Emergency Preparedness Tips for the Elderly
It doesn’t matter whether you’re young or old, natural disasters put everyone at risk. But it makes sense that senior citizens are far more likely to die or be seriously injured from them than young people are. Whether it’s due to problems such as limited mobility or isolation, the elderly have a much more difficult time evacuating during a disaster such as a hurricane or a wildfire. Here are the top 5 emergency preparedness tips for the elderly. In case you missed this post, The Best Ways To Help The Elderly
Top Emergency Preparedness Tips for the Elderly
Did you know that over half of the deaths from Hurricane Katrina were adults that were over the age of 75? Or do you remember the Chicago heat wave in 1995? Two-thirds of the 700 lives that were lost were men and women over the age of 65. When a wildfire takes place, senior citizens over 85 years of age are 4 times more likely to die from it than any other age group. Studies have alarmingly shown us that less than 1/4 of all senior citizens living in the United States are prepared for a natural disaster.
These numbers are not only astonishing and sad, but they really show us that we need to do a better job preparing and helping take care of the elderly should a natural disaster ever occur. It’s also important for those who take care of the elderly to know how to respond in those situations. These are the top 5 emergency preparedness tips for the elderly.
#1. Have a Network of Friends and Family
Having a network of friends and family who are looking out for you is one way of avoiding being left alone in your home during an emergency. If you’re needing help, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call one of them, that’s what they hope you’ll do.
That way someone can come to pick you up and see that you get to safety. Whether you plan on staying in your home or evacuating to a certain location, make sure that you let them know of your plans.
If you don’t have any friends or family who live close to you, get yourself set up with a medical alert system that can respond to your situation. It’s also helpful to have all your contact information printed out and kept in a safe place. If you have a smartphone be sure to have the names listed in your contacts so they can be easily accessed.
#2. Plan Ahead
Should you ever have to deal with a hurricane or an out-of-control wildfire, don’t wait until the last minute to decide your escape and the best route that you should take? It may already be too late. Plan well in advance for your evacuation, especially if you’ve been given enough warning.
Also, be sure to keep up with the emergency broadcasts so that you know what’s going on around you. Should you have to leave your home, you’ll need to know where you’re going to stay, whether it’s a shelter, hotel, or with family or friends who live outside of the affected area.
#3. Gather the Basics
No matter what age you are, it’s a good idea to gather up an emergency kit that’s capable of holding you over for a minimum of 3 days. Some preppers store an extra emergency kit in the trunk of their vehicle in case they have to evacuate in a hurry.
That way you don’t have to worry about making several trips to your car. Here are a few of the basics and other essentials that you should consider putting in one or more designated areas:
- Food (non-perishable food items)
- Water (four gallons of water a day, per person)
- Prescription medication (see if your doctor will provide you with 90 days worth)
- Spare oxygen tanks
- Portable ventilator (for those who need it)
- Batteries for hearing aids
- First-aid kit
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Hand-crank weather radio
- Toiletries and personal care items
- Extra blankets and sleeping bags
- Extra clothing and raingear
- Legal and important documents (keep it in a waterproof container)
#4. Find the Safest Place In Your Home
You need to know ahead of time what the safest place in your home is. If a disaster comes your way you’ll know where to go for shelter. When you’re dealing with a tornado, the best place to go is USUALLY your basement or in the bathroom.
Get as far away from windows and exterior doors as you can. Hiding underneath staircases or in the closet are other options.
For those of you who live in a mobile home, be aware that no room in your house is a safe place during a tornado. You need to head to the nearest permanent structure and have a prearranged method of how you’ll get there.
When you’re dealing with a hurricane and have decided to bunker down in your home, head to the innermost room on the first floor of your house and avoid windows and exterior doorways.
#5. Avoid the Heat
It’s not uncommon for extreme heat to follow behind a hurricane or a tornado that has ripped through an area. Hot temperatures can actually be deadlier than the natural disaster itself.
To make matters even worse, chances are pretty high that your power will not be working afterward. This type of scenario has claimed far too many lives, especially among our senior citizens.
If this were to ever become your situation and the temperature in your home reaches a dangerously high range, you need to consider going somewhere else that has air conditioning.
In the meantime, whether it’s your local community center, a restaurant, a hotel, or stay with a loved one. Don’t become a statistic as you try and hang in there until the power comes back on.
For Everyone Else…
Maybe you’re not an elderly person who’s needing to be looked after. Please take a minute and consider your personal situation. Do you live next to or down the street from an elderly person who is living on their own?
Or maybe your parents or grandparents live further away from you? Don’t wait until there’s a disaster at their location to see whether they’ll be okay.
Get with them now and find out what their arrangements are if a natural disaster were to strike. Offer them any preparation suggestions that you may have and let them know that your’s is a number that they can call if they need any help.
There’s no denying that the elderly are more vulnerable during a natural disaster, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t weather the storm. With a little extra preparation and planning, along with help from friends and family, senior citizens shouldn’t have to face the dangers and obstacles on their own. What are some top emergency preparedness tips for the elderly that you’d like to share? May God Bless this world, Linda
Copyright Images: Forest Fires Deposit photos_48123941_s-2019
17 thoughts on “Top 5 Emergency Preparedness Tips for the Elderly”
Linda, did you write this for all of us old geezers? LOL Great post. We’re lucky that we have two rooms we can go in. Well, a bathroom and a walk in closet. One on each end of the house. Our bedrooms all have windows on only one wall, but I’ll be in the closet or bathroom! We have most of the stuff listed. I’m starting to get more water for storage. 3 and 5 gallon bottles. We have a water cooler/heater that uses them. We have two, but I want 5 or 6 more.
Hi Deborah, LOL! Well, I would fit into the old geezers club!! LOL! Good idea to stock up on water! Stay safe, Linda
I’ve been wanting to for a while. Just finally got hubby on board. He’s finally on the prepping train.
Hi Deborah, it takes people some time to understand the need. Great news, he gets it now. Linda
Only after 5 years. LOL BUT, he did get it. I’m so thankful for that.
Trying to prepare for or prepare the elderly is no joke. It’s hard. Special diets, meds and even just trying to get them off the X and moving is dang near impossible. I make them write down a list of what to take should they have to leave because it’s hard enough for me much less those that don’t do well with change.
I’m also fully aware that in true SHTF it’ll be short lived but I’ll do what I can and we’ve talked about arrangements afterwards. It’s good to have someone outside “the family” in the group to handle things when emotions will be running high.
Hi Matt, great comment! I had a neighbor fall across the street, come to find out she dislocated a hip. Her husband called 911, but wow it was hard getting her to tell the EMT people what drugs she takes. Having an outside “the family” is awesome, it keeps the emotions out. Crazy times! Linda
I would add one more item to the list – stay as physically fit as possible. Depending on individual circumstances, one can get more fit. If you have mobility issues, i.e. confined to using a walker, scooter or wheel chair, you can still up your fitness level. When I had back issues that prevented me from walking comfortably or doing standing exercises, I did seated exercises. If you have issues with balance, YouTube has some great videos to help with that. I watched a video a few years ago of a guy who came home from deployment, injured and told he would never walk again. He was depressed and gained a ton of weight because of his immobility as well as his depression. One of his nurses told him to start yoga. He tried it as seated yoga then progressed to standing. After a couple of years of falling, getting back up, falling, etc., he lost weight, climbed out of his depression AND was finally able to walk unaided. This is, I suppose, an exception to all rules but… Of course, with any change in your routine, get permission from your doctor. You want to be safe.
Where I live, senior apartment complex, it worries me to no end how the management will rent to someone confined to a scooter, wheel chair or walker on anything but the first floor. In an event that the power is out, earthquake or whatever might make the elevator unusable, they are stuck on the floor until emergency personnel can get there to get them out. Even though I am able to get around without assistance, I am not strong enough to get a 250-300 pound man down the stairs when he cannot help at all! And then, if I could, what would he do without his scooter? Emergency personnel are here to assist him at least once a week – he may have fallen, got stuck in the elevator because his scooter battery was not charged, whatever. He does have a caregiver come in daily but that person is not 24/7. So, in his case, he should be on the first floor that has access to getting out of the building in an emergency. And there are some even on the 3rd floor.
I can only do what I can do but I won’t be able to get anyone out of the building in an emergency except me and my BOBs.
So get as fit as you possibly can and start today!
Hi Leanne, this is a great reminder about staying strong and fit. We all need to be reminded about this that’s for sure. If I was in a scooter or not mobile I would have anxiety knowing I had to depend on someone to get me out. It may not happen! Yikes! Great comment! Linda
I loved our home for 30 years. My husband had done everything to make it a great home for our four kids….. Two gas fireplaces, three ceiling to floor Bay windows, two sets of french-doors, solid cherry kitchen and black granite counter-tops, and one bathroom…..upstairs…..when it became obvious I could not longer do the stairs, we moved to a patio home, designed for aging in place, without appearing handicap like. Hardwood floors with no thresholds between rooms, to limit tripping hazards. Pocket doors, first floor laundry and walk in showers. It is even possible to add a ramp in the garage if necessary. It is also safer because we are further out from the city and closer to our grown children. I can walk, although I do have a bad knee, and my husband has a heart condition. We are still able to take care of each other, but we do need to work together to support each others weaknesses.
Hi Chris, oh it sounds so beautiful. We sold our beautiful home and moved south to get out of the snow. I wish we had never done that. I miss my friends and family up north. My husband loves to golf so for right now this is where we live. If he dies first I will move up back up north. You can’t buy good neighbors. We have a few friends here but it’s lonely for me. It’s a blessing you and your husband planned ahead for your “golden years” and it’s a bonus you are close to grown family. I’m sorry you have a bad knee, that is not fun. I had both knees replaced. Life is wonderful if we are close to family and friends. Stay well, Linda
Here in NW Florida, we are both Really Golden Oldies. And presently getting to do the Hurricane Prep Dance for the 5th or 6th time since August. Who knew 2020 would be so much fun!!
While we are both mobile, there has been a definite diminishment in our physical abilities the last 5 years. So we start our hurricane prepping as early as possible. …. as soon as a potential storm is nearing the Gulf of Mexico, we begin with any yard work and repairs, taking down garden trellises or other things that might go airborne. We put up the hurricane shutters, if necessary, before the first tropical storm force winds arrive, usually 2 days before the hurricane is due. We get ice for our coolers the day before the hurricane is due. We fill extra 5 gallon water jugs that day, too. We stage battery lanterns & headlamps & radios throughout the house for during the storm. We stage propane & lanterns, generator & fuel, chainsaw & tools for use after the storm. I make sure that I have extra hay for the livestock & extra food & supplies for our cats & dog. By the storm’s arrival, we’re as ready as we can be to rock n roll. And pray.
I try to make sure that family & elderly friends are stocked up on water, food & supplies. It has actually been easier to help them this year, as I would contact each before I went to work & offer to pick up anything they needed while I was in town. Several of my friends were in the high risk category for the virus, so they were not going to any stores for several months. I was able to talk with everyone about being better prepared & help a couple folks increase their stockpiles from a few days to over a month’s worth of everything. Did the Happy Dance that day!
As we have aged, we have looked into ways to still be able to do things. For one thing, all those fence building & chicken coop projects take 3-4x as long as I planned. For me, raised beds & big container gardens closer to the house have been a true blessing. I moved the chicken pen closer to the house, too.
Right now I am looking into an extra water storage tank made for use in a horse trailer. These are food grade containers in various shapes & holding from 15 – 50 gallons of water. Most can be put on a stand so you can easily access the faucet or hose fitting. I’m considering one that will fit into a small niche by the freezer, that we would fill when hurricane season started & refill as necessary. At some point in time, filling & shifting 5 gallon water jugs is not going to be physically possible.
Hi BDN, you know you have done this long enough that you have it all planned out. As we age the plans change a bit. Okay, a lot. LOL! I love hearing you have it all spelled out. Stay safe, Linda
Linda, I agree with Leanne that physical fitness is critically important for us oldsters. At our age, if you don’t use it you lose it.
Here’s a tip for those elderly who live alone, especially if they have no family or friends close by. Most communities have community centers where the elderly get together for card games, movies, a host of other activities, and sometimes even meals. If you live alone, and can still get around, go there and make some friends.
Churches are also good places to meet other older folks.
Organize a community watch group to meet your neighbors.
Finally, do volunteer work. Do anything you can to meet other people.
Hi Ray, great comment! It’s so true!! People need people BIG time. These are great suggestions! Thank you, Linda
One thing that would help the elderly that are taking prescription medications is to create a document that has their doctors’ names and phone numbers, any prescriptions, any drug allergies, and in a catch all listing titled other include any surgeries with date and doctor, when you had procedures like colonscopy, mammogram, flu vaccine, and anything else that is related to your physical well being that would benefit doctors or emergency personnel to know.
I created a document with most of that information after taking my then-65 year old husband to the ER and he couldn’t remember all the medications he was taking. After creating his, I made one for me. I’m not yet in the elderly category, but I am disabled with a number of medical conditions. These documents are 2 columns on one piece of paper that can be folded and carried in a wallet, purse, glove compartment, or other places. Our youngest daughter lives with us while attending college and has a copy of both of lists in her glove compartment in case she needs it.
The other bonus is that when we take this to a new doctor who needs to see a list, the nurses love it. They have all said it makes things easier. It also makes things easier for us sometimes. I use a CPAP when sleeping and I often forget when I got my most recent CPAP, checking my list I find that my machine was replaced in January 2018.
In October 2016, I slipped on some water on the kitchen floor and fell and ended up with a life threatening injury to my left leg. 3 months in the hospital with 7 surgeries before I was able to come home. At the time we owned a split level house and I had to go up or down 17 steps to get to the car. Every step was an adventure in pain. We started looking for a ranch home with everything on one level. We quickly discovered that a very large group of people were looking for exactly the same type house. It took us about 6 months before we made an offer on a house that was accepted. I have 2 steps to get from the garage into the house. I’m trying to talk hubby into adding a large front porch with a ramp so I can get in the front door. If I had any money to invest, I would invest it into building ranch homes in my area. Most of the ones we looked at sold for up to $10,000 over the asking price.
Hi Topaz, my neighborhood is the same. Most offers are getting $20-25,000.00 over the asking price. It’s crazy, they are all ranch type, one level homes. I love your idea on the list of medications, tests, etc. I have one in my emergency binder that people can download for free. It’s really smart that your daughter has copies. Now, back to your fall, oh my gosh, that is terrible. I can’t imagine 3 months in the hospital and 7 surgeries. OH MY GOSH!!! I’m glad you finally found a home that the offer was accepted. Yay! Life is crazy! Linda