Disaster Planning Tips for Older Adults


Disaster Planning Tips for Senior Adults
Carolyn S. Wilken, Linda B. Bobroff, and Emily Minton

An Introduction to Disaster Planning Tips for Older Adults

Disaster can strike without warning. An important part of planning for a disaster is to have a plan for what you will do if you have to leave your home. Pick a place to meet family members or a close friend in the event that you have to evacuate. Communications often are down early in a disaster, so knowing where to meet loved ones or friends ahead of time is helpful. Use the special tips below to plan and prepare for any emergency.

Table 1. 
 

Disaster Planning Tips

Special Tips for Older Adults

Water

  • 1 gallon per person per day

  • Store at least 3–5 days worth. A two-week supply is ideal.

  • Use for drinking and sanitation.

  • Store extra water if you have pets.

  • Water from swimming pools and spas can be used only for flushing toilets.

  • Dehydration is a serious health problem for older adults. If possible, store more than the recommended amount.

  • Gallon jugs of water are heavy. Use containers that are small enough to easily handle, such as clean and sanitized two-liter plastic soda bottles, if you choose not to purchase commercial water storage containers.

  • Be certain that the caps are easy to remove by persons with arthritis.

Food

Store at least a 3–5 day supply of non-perishable foods with selections from all food groups. Examples include:

  • Grains - breads, dry cereals, crackers, biscuits

  • Vegetables - canned (your favorites)

  • Fruits -canned (in juice) and dried

  • Milk - canned and boxed shelf-stable; consider small sizes

  • Meat and Beans - jerky, canned beans, canned tuna and chicken, shelf-stable chicken, nuts and seeds, peanut and nut butters

  • Consider special dietary needs, such as low-sodium, high-fiber, or other special foods.

  • Store small cans of food that can be eaten at one meal or snack.

  • Have a manual can opener that is easy to use.

First Aid Kits:

  • 1 for home

  • 1 for car

To assemble your own first aid kit, include the following:

  • Adhesive bandages, various sizes

  • Sterile dressings

  • Conforming roller gauze bandages

  • Triangular bandages

  • Sterile gauze pads, various sizes

  • Cotton balls

  • Cohesive bandage roll

  • Germicidal hand wipes or waterless alcohol-based hand sanitizer

  • Antiseptic wipes

  • Medical grade non-latex gloves

  • Adhesive tape

  • Anti-bacterial ointment

  • Cold pack

  • Thermometer

  • Scissors (small, personal)

  • Tweezers

  • Assorted sizes of safety pins

  • CPR breathing barrier, such as a face shield

  • Sunscreen

  • Flashlight and extra batteries

  • Whistle to signal for help

  • Buy a prepared kit and add anything different that you might need.

  • If using a kit you have, restock used or expired supplies.

Contacts: List of whom to notify in an emergency

  • All doctors names, phone numbers, addresses, and what they treat you for (e.g. cardiologist)

  • Phone numbers of a few in and out-of-town relatives or close friends

  • Keep all of these lists in a waterproof plastic bag or container.

 

Important papers

  • Identification cards

  • Insurance cards

  • Birth/death/marriage certificates

  • Social security card

  • Bank account and credit card information

  • Keep all documents in waterproof plastic bags or containers.

Also include:

  • Medicare and/or Medicaid cards

  • Living will and medical power of attorney

  • Veteran's papers

Electronics

  • Battery-powered radio and/or television

  • Cell phone and chargers for the house and car

  • Extra batteries for each electronic device

  • Battery-powered wheel chair

  • Learn how to connect and start backup power supply for wheel chair or other necessary medical equipment.

  • Have a manual wheelchair for backup.

Time passers

  • Board games, puzzles, playing cards

  • Books

  • Paper and pens for letters and notes; envelopes and stamps

  • Sewing, crocheting, knitting supplies

  • Paperback books weigh less than hardcover books.

  • E-book readers store hundreds of books (but do need charging).

Medical needs

  • Lists of prescription medications and dosage

  • Doctors' and pharmacy phone numbers and addresses

  • Extra glasses

  • Pain relievers

  • Stomach medicine

  • Poison-response drugs

  • Supplements

  • Check expiration dates and replace as needed.

  • Extra hearing aid batteries

  • Medical alert tag or bracelet

  • Wheel chair batteries

  • List of serial numbers and styles of medical devices (i.e. pacemakers)

  • Photocopies of all prescription drugs with dosage, directions, interactions, refill dates

  • Consult with your doctor about which non-prescription drugs and supplements are safe for you.

  • Minimum 2-week supply of all essential medications

People with special needs

Persons with diabetes

  • Keep travel packs of insulin in the refrigerator.

  • Testing supplies (enough for at least 2 weeks)

  • Extra batteries for your meter

  • Insulin-delivery supplies

  • Insulin

  • Lancets and Lancing device

  • Oral medications

  • Quick-acting source of glucose

  • Extra glucagon emergency kit

  • Medical waste container for used needles

  • Keep insulin as cool as possible; if on ice, be careful not to freeze.

  • If necessary, insulin may be stored at room temperature (59°F–86°F) for 28 days.

  • Do not use insulin that clumps or sticks to the side of the bottle.

Persons with Alzheimer's

  • Register with local police and fire departments.

  • ID bracelet or necklace indicating special or peculiar behaviors (e.g., memory loss)

  • Written instructions for reaching family members, friends, and physicians.

Bed-Bound Persons

  • Emergency transportation plan

  • Supplies of daily care items - bed pads, adult diapers, linens (enough for at least 2 weeks)

  • Dietary needs

Oxygen-Dependent

  • Oxygen supplies (including alternate power source such as a battery)

  • Extra water for oxygen condensers

Persons with Incontinence

  • Incontinence under garments

  • Disposable wipes

  • Cleansing products

Emotional support/ Stress reduction

  • Special photos

  • Spiritual support

  • A special memento

  • Comfort food

  • Addresses and phone numbers of friends

  • Keep a journal about your experience.

  • Form an informal 'support group' to share concerns and information.

  • Write letters to your grandchildren or other family and friends.

Pets

  • Extra food in plastic containers

  • Carrier

  • ID tags (2 sets, one on the animal and one extra) with name and your contact information

  • Proof of ownership (e.g., registration papers and pictures)

  • Medications and pet first aid supplies

  • Medical and vaccination records

  • Veterinarian's phone number and address

 

Evacuation

  • Have backpacks handy to put supplies, clothing, and bedding in if you must evacuate or move to a shelter.

  • Plan in advance for someone to care for your pet if pets not welcome at shelter.

  • Prearrange transportation with neighbors.

  • Identify local shelters that accommodate older adults and persons with disabilities.

Attention County Extension Faculty:

This section deals with disaster planning topics and lists special tips for seniors. Included topics are planning for medical needs: what to have on hand or to pack; planning for people with special needs: those with Alzheimer's, Diabetes; the Bed-Bound, and the oxygen-supply dependent. Also included are topics and techniques on planning for: time passers, emotional support/stress reduction. and evacuation or moving to a shelter. Click here to print or view the entire publication.

There are 13 sections in this FYCS series, each focused specific preparedness issues important to Florida families.

• Preparing a Family Communications Plan for Terrorist Attacks (FY623/FCS9201) Keywords: contact, meeting, plan

• Community Contacts: Being Prepared for a Disaster (FY612/FCS9190) Keywords: national resources, Florida resources

• Community Contacts: Responding to a Disaster (FY611/FCS9189) Keywords: agency, assistance, FEMA

• Preparing to Evacuate your Home in Case of an Emergency (FY616/FCS9194) Keywords: emergency checklist, shelters, children in school., evacuating pets and animals

• TV Viewing by Children During Times of Conflict (FY613/FCS9191) Keywords: fact and fantasy, listening to your child, being a role model

• Terror/Emergency Preparedness (FY614/FCS9192) Keywords: important papers, medicines, special foods

• Avoid Fraud During Emergencies (FY615/FCS9193) Keywords: fraud, scams, overpriced cleanup and rebuilding

• Preparation for Disasters: Your Food and Drinking Water Supply (FY617/FCS9195) Keywords: preparing drinking water, purifying water, types of food

• Managing the Stress of War and Terrorism: Guidelines for Families (FY622/FCS9200) Keywords: signs of stress, manage stress, overload, substance abuse.

• International Travel in Unsettled Times (FY618/FCS9196) Keywords: travel alert, World Factbook, contacts, passport, CDC, Medevac insurance

• Disaster Planning: Important Papers and Documents (FY619/FCS9197) Keywords: papers and documents, checklist, on-the-go records.

• Disaster Planning: Tips for Senior Adults (FY620/FCS9198) Keywords: non-perishable food, first aid kit, non-prescription drugs, special tips fo senior adults

• Facing Terrorism Alone (FY621/FCS9199) Keywords: what if, do one thing at a time, keep in touch, know your neighbors

References & Resources

Psychosocial Issues for Older Adults in Disasters. DHHS Publication No. ESDRB SMA 99-3323. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Centers for Mental Health Services.

Tips for Seniors and People with Disabilities - Disaster Preparedness for Seniors by Seniors. Available at your local chapter of the American Red Cross, or online at http://www2.redcross.org/services/disaster/beprepared/seniors.html.

Disaster Supply Kits. Available at your local chapter of the American Red Cross, or online athttp://www2.redcross.org/services/disaster/0,1082,0_3_,00.html.

Diabetes Disaster Preparedness. Division of Healthy and Family Services, State of New Jersey. Available online athttp://www.nj.gov/health/fhs/documents/diabetes_disaster_guidelines.pdf.

Disaster Preparedness Guide for Elders. Florida Department of Elder Affairs. Available online athttp://elderaffairs.state.fl.us/english/disaster.php.

Family Disaster Plan. Red Cross. Talking About Disaster: Guide for Standard Messages. Available online athttp://www.redcross.org/images/pdfs/code/family_disaster_plan.pdf.

Footnotes

1. 

This document is FCS9198, one of a series of the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, IFAS, University of Florida. First published May 2003. Reviewed by the publishing department October 2009. Revised February 2011 by Linda B. Bobroff, professor, and Emily Minton, ENAFS program coordinator, both of the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences at University of Florida. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/.

2. 

Carolyn S. Wilken, Ph.D., associate professor emeritus; Linda B. Bobroff, PhD, RD, LD/N, professor; Emily Minton, BS, ENAFS program coordinator; Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences; Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences; University of Florida; Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other extension publications, contact your county Cooperative Extension service. 

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A. & M. University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Millie Ferrer-Chancy, Interim Dean.


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