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Emergency Planning Imperative for Older Adults

Capital Health Home Care | May 15, 2021

"Emergency Plan" written on a notepad

Natural disasters, such as a tornado, flood, or blizzard, may force you to evacuate your home or shelter-in-place with little notice. It is important to have an emergency plan in place.

Older adults may face extra challenges during an emergency depending on mobility, chronic health conditions, hearing or vision loss, or even cognitive impairment.  Access to family and friends may be interrupted.  Support services that are usually available may be unavailable. Emergency planning is imperative for older adults.

1. Create an Emergency Kit

Create a list of emergency contacts for family and friends. Leave a copy by your phone(s) and include one in your Emergency Supply Kit.

Emergency kit

Emergency supply kits should include a first aid kit, batteries, a cookstove, hot packs, flashlights, lighters, candles, blankets, ample supply of non-perishable emergency food, storage containers for food, drinking water, water, a survival pack, an indoor portable heater, a camping toilet, and a battery-operated AM/FM radio.

2. Create your plan

Create a care plan and keep a copy in your Emergency Supply Kit. Try out CDC’s easy-to-use care plan template.

If you are living in a retirement or assisted living community, learn what procedures are in place in case of emergencies. Keep a copy of exit routes and meeting places in an easy-to-reach place.

Plan how you will leave and where you will go during an evacuation.

3. Share your plan

Consider speaking with your neighbors about developing a check-on-your-neighbor emergency initiative.

4. Build your connection network

Designate a contact person who will check on you during a disaster.

If you have medical, transportation, or other access needs during an emergency, consider signing up for SMART911 or your local county registry depending upon which service your area uses to helps first responders identify people who may need assistance right away.

Smart911 is a free service that allows users to provide more information about themselves or their household to 911 in case of emergencies.  The service is helpful for everyone, especially seniors and those with mobile/wireless devices that may be used to call 911.

Smart911 allows you to:

  • Provide additional information to Police, Fire, and EMS services so they can help you faster and more effectively in an emergency.
  • Receive alerts and notifications to stay informed of weather, traffic, and other emergencies in your community.
  • Alert emergency managers that you will be needing special assistance when a disaster strikes.

Please check on your local community Reverse 911 notification system to see if Smart911 is available, and if so, how to get registered.