Older Citizens and People with Special Needs Must Plan In Advance for Emergencies


ALBANY, N.Y. - Being prepared for an emergency is everyone’s responsibility. If you are elderly or have disabilities or special needs, careful planning is essential to survive a tornado, flood, fire or other disaster.

Disasters or emergencies can strike quickly and without warning and may force you to evacuate your neighborhood or confine you to your home.

The first step is to assess your risk, your environment, and your capabilities. Do you live in an area that regularly experiences severe weather conditions? What is the history of flooding in your neighborhood? Are there fire hazards in your home? Do you live alone? How long could you manage on your own without help? What essentials, in addition to food and water, would you need? Could you leave your home quickly if you have to? Where would you go? Do you have transportation to take you to your alternate destination? These questions provide the framework for your planning.

As you may have to leave your home and neighborhood quickly in an emergency, prepare a list of the locations of hospitals, pharmacies, shelters, as well police and fire departments in adjacent neighborhoods or near the homes of family members.

The next step is to create a support network of family, friends and caregivers whom you might depend on. Inform this network of your concerns and plans should an emergency occur. Make sure at least one person has a key to your home and knows where you keep your emergency kit and supplies. Teach network members how to use any medical equipment you may require and explain what medication you take and how often.

Your emergency kit should be readily accessible and portable. It should contain all required medications and prescriptions, eyeglasses, hearing aid batteries, cell phone and flashlight batteries, copies of Medicare and Medical Insurance cards, names and phone numbers of employers, family, friends, doctors and other medical personnel. Keep some cash on hand in case you cannot get to a bank.

Talk to your physician about any special requirements you may need in an emergency. If you are on a respirator, check with your oxygen supplier about emergency plans. Maintain a two-week supply of both prescription and non-prescription medications. Wear a medical alert. If you have an electric wheelchair, get a lightweight manual back up.

Contact your local emergency management office and give them your address and phone number. Also ask your local emergency management coordinator about special assistance that may be offered in your community. Include your service animals and pets in your plans.

SOURCE: Federal Emergency Management Agency