Preparedness for Older Adults

Are you an older adult? If so, please take responsibility and prepare now for potential emergencies that may affect you and your family.

Disasters can strike quickly and without warning. Even if you have physical limitations, you can still protect yourself. In the event of an emergency, local officials and relief workers may not be able to reach everyone right away, so take responsibility. Keep in touch with your neighbors, look out for each other and be aware of anyone who may need special help. Knowing what to do is your best protection.

By planning ahead, you can avoid waiting in long lines for critical supplies, such as food, water and medicine.

Older Adults and Extreme Heat

Be prepared for Extreme Heat! Did you know that most people with health problems caused by summer heat are aged 50 and older? People 65 years of age or older are at high risk to suffer from heat-related illness.

Tips for older adults in extreme heat

  • Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible. Contact your local health department or locate an air-conditioned shelter in your area, including senior centers and cooling shelters.
  • Do NOT rely on a fan as your main cooling source when it’s really hot outside.
  • Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Listen to local weather forecasts to prepare for extreme heat to STAY INFORMED.
  • Check on your neighbors and other older adults in your life.
  • Talk with the Long-term care (LTC) facility where the older adult in your life may live. Ask them about their Emergency Preparedness Plan! What happens if the air conditioner stops working there?

Why are older adults at risk?

  • Older adults do not adjust as well as younger people to sudden changes in temperature.
  • Thy are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that changes normal body responses to heat.
  • They are more likely to take prescription medicines that affect the body’s ability to control its temperature or sweat.
  • Older adults aging in the community are on a fixed income and may be limited in financial resources to adequately prepare by buying air conditioners, fans, and weather stripping to keep cool air in and hot air out.
  • They may not have reliable transportation or rely on public transportation. It may make it difficult to get to a cooling center.
  • Social isolation impacts the health of older adults, especially during heat waves.

For more information:

Disaster preparation checklist for seniors

For your safety and comfort, have at least three days’ worth of emergency supplies (both medical and general) packed and ready in an easy-to-carry container, such as a backpack or duffel bag. Make sure your bag has an identification tag and label any equipment, such as wheelchairs, canes or walkers that you need.

Be prepared to go to a shelter if your area is without electrical power; if there is a chemical emergency affecting your area; if flood water is rising; if your home has been severely damaged; or if police or other local officials tell you to evacuate.

Your medical information list should include:

  • Your medical care providers’ contact information.
  • Names and dosages of medications you use.
  • Details about adaptive equipment and/or body system support equipment you use.
  • A list of your allergies and sensitivities.
  • Instructions for dealing with communication or cognitive difficulties.
  • Copies of your health insurance cards and related information
  • Extra copies of your prescriptions.

If you need to evacuate:

In some communities, people who need help or transportation during an evacuation are asked to register that need with their local government. Call your local emergency management office for information and suggestions about what to do during an evacuation.

If you are sure you have enough time before evacuating:

For more information, contact your local emergency management office.