Ways to Prepare for a Disaster
Aging Matters

We have access to more data than ever before, which gives us the ability to predict dangerous tornadoes, hurricanes, snowstorms, and floods. Some areas are prone to earthquakes, wildfires, and data can give us hours in advance whether a disaster will hit.

However, in spite of all the data and forewarnings, we remain unprepared for events. If you've ever experienced devastation from a natural disaster or otherwise, then you know how important it is to get ready and be prepared. It's wise to follow this advice, "Hope for the best and prepare for the worst."

Here's a list of things to put together and store in a place that's easy to get to in case of an emergency. The items are for the entire family, including elderly loved ones.

  • Fill a fireproof box with identification and other cards, financial records, family records, electronic versions of medical records, wills, deeds, bank account information, photos and emergency cash in small bills. Store copies of Medicare and Social Security cards in the kit. Access the online tool provided by HHS that helps you locate and access electronic health records from different sources. http://healthit.gov/bluebutton
  • Make a list. Include emergency phone numbers such as the local fire department, poison control, and rescue and ambulance services. Add names and contact information of your support network, and medical providers.Store in a place you can find it fast - like on the refrigerator door.
  • Keep copies of your prescriptions including dosage, orders for medical equipment like oxygen, and treatment and allergy information. Talk to the pharmacist or physician about what else you can do to prepare.
  • Have personal needs like eyeglasses, hearing aids and hearing aid batteries, wheelchair batteries, and oxygen handy and ready to grab.
  • Create a go-kit, a sturdy container like a backpack or a suitcase on wheels, and store it in an accessible place. Fill it with water, non-perishable food, manual can opener, flashlight and extra batteries, first aid kit, whistle, dust mask to filter contaminated air, moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties. If you have room, add local maps, and a cell phone with charger. Get the full list at www.ready.gov/kit.
  • Learn how to turn off valves for gas, oil, water and your home's main electrical supply. Put tags on them so you can find them quickly, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency warns to have a professional turn them back.

Learn more about hazards which can affect your community: https://community.fema.gov/take-action/hazards.

Disasters and emergencies can affect everyone at any time of the year, without warning. Even power outages cause serious effects on people unprepared. The first step is create a disaster supply kit. They ensure that you are self-sufficient during the episode.

Carol Marak is the editor at SeniorCare.com. She's earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from the University of CA, Davis. Contact Carol at Carol@SeniorCare.com.

Part of the Aging Matters Weekly Syndicated Column

Aging Matters is a weekly column tackling everyday challenges that our growing elderly population and their loved ones face. It is also published in a variety of syndication partners including newspapers all over the country.

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