How to Prepare Seniors for Natural Disasters

July 24, 2018

If you have an elderly parent who lives alone, no doubt you have concerns from time to time, whether it’s about making sure their surroundings are safe to worries about their health or finances. Extreme weather conditions can also pose safety issues for seniors on their own. We’ve talked here about precautions in the snow and cold, but of course, storm preparedness doesn’t stop when winter’s over. With hurricane season bearing down on us, it’s worth taking a minute to go over best practices in making sure the senior you care about is prepared in the event of a severe storm.

  1. Make a disaster kit. Ideally, the contents should serve Mom for a minimum of 3 days and up to 2 weeks. Items should include bottled water, non-perishable foods, $100 in small bills, all necessary prescription medications, a cell phone and portable charger, and emergency contact info. Make sure to update contents as necessary.
  2. Create a back-up supply of mobility devices. If Dad needs a cane or walker, make sure he has an extra one labeled with his name and phone number along with the supply kit. You may also want to include an extra pair of safe, sturdy shoes – they could come in handy should there be property damage such as broken glass, etc.
  3. Protect valuables and legal documents. This is a no-brainer and should be done regardless of weather events. Conduct a video tour of Dad’s house and narrate each item’s brand and known value. Scan all of Dad’s medical, financial, and identifying paperwork and store it safely on a flash drive that you keep off the premises. This includes Dad’s social security card, bank statements, insurance policies and cards, passport, and driver’s license. Make sure too that you have all necessary home passwords (for wireless, alarm systems, etc).
  4. Make an evacuation plan. Determine who Mom’s go-to people are in case of emergency – whether it’s a neighbor, church friend, or family member. Contact her local Red Cross chapter to get familiar with the emergency protocol for her area. Write down the plan, along with emergency phone numbers, and make sure Mom’s contacts have a copy as well.

Educate yourselves. There’s a huge amount of help online to learn how to best prepare seniors for a natural disaster. The Red Cross is the premier resource on the subject, offering specifics on emergency kits here as well as a comprehensive booklet written by seniors for seniors, that’s available for free download here. The Centers for Disease Control also offer a number of helpful checklists and pamphlets on their website.