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Disaster Preparedness for Seniors

Disasters can strike anytime, anywhere. By their very nature, they are more or less impossible to predict, but with proper planning and preparedness, you can make sure to remain safe through even the worst of them. For seniors living at home, this is especially important, as local officials may not be able to reach you right away, and the conditions outside might make it especially difficult for your friends or family to assist you, or for you to travel out to them.

The first step in any efficient disaster plan is to first get informed. Consider where you live and what kinds of disasters are likely to affect you and interrupt services. If, for example, you live somewhere inland and temperate with very little rainfall, it would not make sense to plan for flooding or snowstorms. Making sure your stockpiles of emergency supplies contains only useful items is the best way to save on space and money.

Food and water are the most obvious and essential items to stockpile, and should be the foundation from which you start. For home stockpiles, having one week of both food and water should be considered a minimum amount to have on hand in the event of an interruption of services. Having one gallon of water, per person, per day, is a good rule of thumb. Water can be purchased and stored in the garage or a closet in either sealed jugs or flats of water bottles, or stored in purpose built containers, like 5 gallon jugs or larger water barrels. For food, canned or dried goods that don’t need to be cooked are best, as your utilities may be compromised.

If evacuation is necessary, then weight and portability must be considered. Enough supplies for 72 hours, or three days, is ideal. For considerations of weight, water treatment products like purification tablets or filtration systems can be a better option than carrying extra water, and pouches of dehydrated food will save weight over canned goods, with the added bonus of being easier to open.

Additional supplies should take into consideration lighting, ideally multiple flashlights or electric lanterns with plenty of batteries, comfort, such as blankets or warm clothing for cold environments, or sunscreen and light clothing for warmer ones, a disaster radio, first aid and medications, and other essentials. Don’t forget about extra food and water for any pets you may have. In the event that you need to shelter in place, odds are you’ll already have most of this stuff anyway. Take this opportunity to either collect it all in one designated place, or make a list of where it can be found so you can quickly assemble a kit if need be.

Coordinate with your friends and family to form a disaster plan where you can all rely on each other as much as possible, too. Having your support network helping to share the concerns of emergency preparedness can make it less burdensome for yourself, as well as helping you rest a little easier knowing you won’t have to be going it alone.