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Emergency Resources for Older Adults

It's difficult enough to prepare for a winter storm, tornado or other disaster when you don't have the added challenge of a disability or lack of resources. During an emergency, as an older adult or an individual with a disability, you may have special needs that must be considered when creating a household plan and emergency kit.

If you or a family member have difficulty moving quickly and easily, make sure your neighbors are aware and that you have someone who can check in during an emergency.

Develop a support network with several people who will continue to follow up with you following an emergency.

If in a multi-level dwelling, consider staying or relocating to the first floor.

Medication & Medical Supplies
Keep a separate supply of at least seven days worth of any medication or critical medical supplies, such as oxygen.

If you rely on electric medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, ventilators and oxygen compressors, talk to your medical supply company about getting batteries or a generator as a back up power source. Also contact your electricity provider and register with them.

Additions to the Emergency Kit and Go Bag:

  • Extra mobility aids, including a manual wheelchair (car batteries may be used to run an electric wheelchair)
  • A whistle to signal for help
  • Necessary medications and supplies
  • Special sanitary needs
  • Important medical phone numbers
  • Food that meets specialized dietary needs
  • Make a list of your medications, medical conditions, insurance information, allergies, and have your insurance cards available. Keep one copy with you at all times, and give the other copy to someone else for safekeeping.

Planning Tips for Seniors:

  • Develop a "buddy" system with family, friends, neighbors or co-workers. Plan how you will help each other in an emergency.
  • Prepare are an emergency go kit that you could grab and take with you if there is a need to evacuate. Include necessary medications, basic toiletries, any special sanitary aids, and whom to contact in emergencies.
  • Make a list of your medications, allergies, special equipment, doctor's number,. and whom to contact in emergencies. People who have difficulty with communication should have other important information written out, such as special toileting needs, or how to lift or move them. Give a copy to each buddy, keep a copy with you, and put a copy in your go kit (above).
  • Make a plan with your personal care attendant. If you use an attendant from an agency, see if the agency has special provisions for emergencies.
  • Determine at least two usable exits from each room and from your building.
  • Pick one out-of-state and one local friend or relative for family and others to call if separated. Identify a location where you can reunite with family/friends

Special Tips for Older Adults During and After and Emergency

  • Keep important equipment and assistive devices in a consistent, convenient and secured place so you can quickly and easily locate them after the emergency happens.
  • Develop an emergency kit where extra hearing aids, batteries, eye glasses, etc., are kept, to replace damaged or lost equipment.
  • Store extra mobility aids (e.g., canes, crutches, walkers, wheelchairs), as a backup to primary equipment.
  • If you employ a personal attendant, use the services of a home health agency, or other type of in-home service, discuss with these people a plan for what you will do in case of an emergency.
  • A critical element to consider in emergency planning is the establishment of a personal support network or buddy system. This network can consist of friends, neighbors, family members, relatives, etc. Their job is to check with you in an emergency to ensure you are okay and help where needed.
  • Do not to depend on any one person, but work out support relationships with several people.
  • Evaluate your capabilities, limitations and needs, as well as your surroundings, to determine what type of help your personal support network may need to provide in an emergency.
  • Will you be able to independently shut off the necessary utilities (gas, water, electricity)?
  • Do you own and can you operate a fire extinguisher?
  • Do you have an evacuation kit that you can quickly grab and carry if you must leave your home? (Include necessary medications, toiletries, any special sanitary aids, and emergency contact information)
  • Write instructions for the following (keep a copy with you and share with your personal support network)
    • How to turn off utilities
    • How to operate and safely move any essential equipment you have
    • How to safely transport you if you need to be carried
    • How to provide personal assistance services
    • How you will evacuate, and where you will go

Additional Information:
Disability Preparedness
Preparations for Older Adults

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