National Preparedness Month (NPM) is an observance each September to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time. The 2023 theme is “Take Control in 1, 2, 3”. The campaign will focus on preparing older adults for disasters, specifically older adults from communities that are disproportionally impacted by the all-hazard events, which continue to threaten the nation.
Take time to learn CPR and first aid, and check your insurance policies and coverage for the natural disasters you may face. Make sure to consider the costs associated with disasters and save for an emergency. Also, know how to take practical safety steps like shutting off water and gas.
We know older adults can face greater risks when it comes to the multitude of extreme weather events and emergencies we now face, especially if they are living alone, are low-income, have a disability, or live in rural areas.
Emergency Preparedness for Older Adults
For older adults and their families, it is important to consider individual circumstances and needs to effectively prepare for emergencies and disasters.
- Know what disasters could affect your area, which ones could call for an evacuation and when to shelter in place.
- Keep a NOAA Weather Radio tuned to your local emergency station and monitor TV and radio. Follow mobile alerts and warnings about severe weather in your area.
- Download the FEMA app and get weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five different locations anywhere in the United States.
Make a Plan
In the event of a disaster could you make it on your own for several days? After a disaster you may not have access to a medical facility or even a drugstore. It’s crucial to plan for your daily needs and know what you would do if they become limited or unavailable. Additional planning steps include:
- Create a support network of people who can help you in a disaster. Keep a contact list in a watertight container in your emergency kit or on your electronic devices.
- Inform your support network where you keep your emergency supplies. You may want to consider giving a trusted member a key to your house or apartment.
- Plan ahead for accessible transportation that you may need for evacuation or getting around during or after disaster. Check with local transit providers as well as with your emergency management agency to identify appropriate accessible options.
- Many city and county emergency management agencies maintain voluntary registries for older adults to self-identify in order to receive targeted assistance during emergencies and disasters. Contact your local senior office to find out more.
- If you are on dialysis or other life-sustaining medical treatment, know the location and availability of more than one facility that can help you.
- If you use medical equipment in your home that requires electricity, talk to your doctor or health care provider about what you may be able to do to keep it running during a power outage. You can also ask your power provider to put you on a list for priority power restoration.
- About half of all Americans take a prescription medicine every day. An emergency can make it difficult for them to refill their prescription or to find an open pharmacy. Organize and protect your prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, and vitamins to prepare for an emergency.
- Wear medical alert tags or bracelets. Also add pertinent medical information to your electronic devices.
- If you have a communication disability consider carrying printed cards or storing information on your devices to inform first responders and others how to communicate with you.
- If you use assistive technologies, plan how you will evacuate with the devices or how you will replace equipment if lost or destroyed.
- Locate and access your electronic health records from a variety of sources by using the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' online tool.
- Consider your service or support animal or pets and plan for food, water and supplies. If you need to evacuate, you’ll need to know whether your shelter allows pets or not, since some shelters only allow service or support animals.
- Keep a list of the nearest medical facilities, local hospitals and nearest transportation.
For more information, see the Ready.gov page for older adults.