Disaster Safety for Seniors

Although emergency preparedness is important for all people, seniors should take extra measures to ensure that they are ready for when emergencies strike. Seniors, especially those who live alone or are limited in mobility, may have more difficulty during an emergency than a younger person. This is why it is crucial to have emergency plans in place before disaster strikes. Any emergency preparedness plan should account for any specific challenges a person may face. Keep an emergency kit available with food and water for 72 hours as well as any medications that may be needed. Plans should involve a support network of several people who know to check in during an emergency.

Tornado Safety

Keep a battery-powered radio for weather and safety alerts during severe weather, and be aware of common signs that a tornado may be incoming. Designate a safe location within the home for a tornado emergency. This should be an interior room of the house that's on the bottom floor and away from windows. Take time to make sure that the safe area will be easily accessible during an emergency.

Practice executing your tornado emergency plan during periods of good weather. By practicing, you are ensuring that you will be prepared when a tornado occurs. Make a list of people who you can contact during an emergency to alert them of your safety during an emergency. Also, make arrangements with members of your support network to verify your safety after a tornado has occurred.

Flooding Safety

During flood emergencies, it is important to remember not to attempt to wade through rushing or deep water. This is especially true for seniors, who may find it more difficult to fight against currents or obstacles found in deep water. Contact a member of your support network and attempt to evacuate if it is safe to do so.

If flood waters have already made it unsafe to evacuate, stay in the home but move to a higher floor if possible. Designate ahead of time a location in your home to wait out the flood, and equip the area with an emergency kit. Notify the members of your support network where your designated location is so that they will know where to find you when it is safe for them to do so. If flood waters have trapped you in your home, do what you can to stay in contact with members of your support network to notify them of your situation. Listen to weather notifications to stay updated on the outside environment, rather than attempting to investigate yourself.

Earthquake Safety

Earthquakes occur suddenly and without warning, so being prepared ahead of time is necessary. Take the time to locate potentially dangerous areas in your house. These may be areas with unsteady furniture, items stacked too high, or loose fixtures. Do what you can to get these problem areas fixed before disaster strikes. During an earthquake, if it is safe to do so, move to an interior location of the house away from windows or unsteady furniture. For seniors, it is best to sit during an earthquake, as falling is a concern. When in a safe location and seated, cover your head and remain in place. It's best to not attempt to move until the shaking has stopped.

Contact a member of your support network when it is safe to do so. Make sure the members of your support network know to come check in if they have not heard from you. Take caution in the moments following an earthquake, as aftershocks are possible. If any debris has fallen around you, take care not to inhale the dust; cover your nose and mouth with a handkerchief. If any utilities have been damaged, leave the area and alert the utility company so they can send personnel to fix the issue.

Hurricane Safety

Hurricanes can be among the most devastating of natural disasters. In the case of a hurricane, it is best to evacuate the area when possible. Contact members of your support network to inform them of your evacuation plans. Plan on having enough supplies for an extended period of time, as in the aftermath of a hurricane, it can take several days for homes to be accessible again.

If you intend to stay in your home during the hurricane, alert your support network of your intentions. They will need to be aware so they can check on your safety during and after the storm. Keep enough supplies on hand for several weeks. Remember, you may be without utilities for an extended period of time, so nonperishable food is preferable.

Fire Safety

When preparing for a fire, the first consideration always needs to be the smoke. Most fatal fires occur when people are sleeping, and this is why smoke alarms should be installed in every bedroom, hallway, living area, and kitchen. Make sure there is at least one smoke alarm on every floor of the house. For those who are hearing-impaired, there are smoke alarms that use light and vibration as an alarm mechanism. If you do live in a house, consider keeping the bedroom on the ground floor.

Ensure that all doors and windows can unlock and open. Know your quickest route out of the house, and practice your evacuation plan in case of fire. Remember that safety is the main concern and possessions need to be left behind. Once you have safely exited your home, contact a member of your support network to alert them of your safety.

Cold Weather Safety

During cold weather months, extra measures are needed to ensure safety. First, set the thermostat in your home to at least 68 degrees. If energy bills are a concern, you may close off parts of the house you are not using. Dress warmly, even inside, to avoid dangers such as hypothermia.

When it is necessary to go outside, bundle up. Dress in layers, and make sure that at least one layer is waterproof. When back inside, immediately remove wet or damp clothing and replace it with warm, dry clothes.

You are well on your way toward protecting your staff and organization.

Take the next step toward protecting your organization by learning more about emergency notification systems and the vital role they play in your emergency preparedness plan.