National Preparedness Month is an observance held each September to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time. The theme this year is “Take Control in 1, 2, 3,” with a focus on preparing older adults for disasters.
It seems that we hear of some new disaster befalling a community or region every week – from fires to flooding, extreme heat to tornadoes, chemical spills to attacks in public places. Yet taking the time to prepare for an emergency often falls to the bottom of our “to do” list. There are many benefits to planning ahead for disasters to increase safety, help limit property damage, and to guide us through the recovery process.
If you don’t have an emergency plan, now is the time to take action. If you have a plan but you haven’t reviewed it, practiced it and made updates, now is the time to take action.
Older adults may have additional needs that should be taken into consideration when planning for emergency situations. You should:
- Plan how you will communicate – make sure you have what you need to receive emergency updates and to reach out for help if you need it. Touch base with family members to discuss your emergency planning needs.
- Plan for your everyday essentials – make sure you have ample food and water, prescription medications, medical supplies, and accommodations for any pets or service animals.
- Plan for transportation – if an evacuation is necessary, will you need help and do you have mobility assistance devices that you will need to take with you?
- Plan for what’s next – make sure you have copies of important documents, such as birth certificates, passports, documents needed for insurance, housing information, vehicle registrations, healthcare provider information, and financial obligations.
The act of creating an emergency plan will go a long way in helping you to navigate a disaster, but you should also test your plan by practicing emergency drills and testing your communication plan. As part of this planning process, think about the types of weather events, disasters or emergencies that could affect where you live and work, and how you should respond to each. Know your evacuation routes. Assemble emergency supplies.
There’s so much more to emergency planning to help you weather the storm and help set the stage for a full recovery. The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) website – //www.ready.gov/ – is your go-to source for effectively creating and maintaining your family preparedness plan. We encourage you to get started today!