National Preparedness Month Reminds Us to Take Control in 1, 2, 3 Before Disasters

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Since 2003, September is celebrated as National Preparedness Month. This September, it’s more important than ever to be prepared as disasters increase in size and frequency. Hurricanes Hilary and Idalia, as well as recent wildfires in Hawaii and on the west coast, remind us that disasters and emergencies can happen anywhere, at any time and that now is the time prepare. 

This year’s theme, “Take Control in 1, 2, 3,” highlights the importance for older adults to prepare by taking three essential steps – assess your needs, create a plan, and engage your support network. These steps empower older adults with tools and strategies to be more prepared.

1 - Assess your Needs

An individual’s needs during a disaster aren’t always the same. It’s important to assess your needs and the needs of each of your family members so you can make a plan that works for you. 

Here are some questions you can use to assess your needs before you make a plan.

  • What are the natural hazards create a risk for you? (i.e., floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, extreme heat, or hurricanes) 
  • How will you receive emergency warnings and alerts?
  • Do you have access to transportation if you need to evacuate? 
  • Do you have enough supplies if you are without power for several days?
  • Are there others under your care that need to be considered in your planning? 
  • Do you have a service animal or pet that needs their own supplies or plan? Do you have a list of shelters that allow pets?
  • Does your medical equipment require a power source?
  • Do you use assistive devices, such as hearing aids, glasses, a cane, or a walker?
  • Do you take medications?
  • Is your property insured for disasters most common in your area?

2 - Make a Plan

Once you’ve assessed your needs, it’s time to make sure you have a plan in place that addresses those needs. Your plan should include the following:

  • An emergency kit. The kit should include items that address your needs. In addition to basics like food and water, this kit can include prescription medicine, a backup power source for medical equipment, a battery powered radio, supplies for a service animal, games or other activities for children, and important family documents. 
  • Emergency meeting locations. Your family may not be together during a disaster so plan to meet at a specific location. Have plans for how to get there. 
  • Contact information. Keep a contact list of those who can help you in a disaster. Store it in a watertight container in your emergency kit and on your electronic devices.
  • Evacuation information. Do you have accessible transportation? It’s important to plan ahead for accessible transportation for evacuating during a disaster. Check with local transit providers as well as with your emergency management agency to identify appropriate accessible options.  

On, you can build your plan and download a copy. 

3 - Engage Your Support Network

Once you’ve assessed your needs and have all your information and supplies gathered, consider pulling others into your plan. Start by creating a support network of family, friends and others who can assist you during an emergency. 

  • Know your network. Identify the friends, family, fellow congregants at places of worship and neighbors who can help you and check on you during an emergency.
  • Make sure someone in your support network is aware of your specific needs. 
  • Ensure that you have people in your network that have an extra key to your home and know where you keep your emergency supplies. If needed, make sure someone knows how to use critical medical equipment and administer medicine if needed. 
  • Know your clinic/hospital’s emergency plans and identify backup service providers.
  • Participate in a community preparedness event or initiative. 
  • Make yourself part of someone else’s emergency network. 

By adopting these principles and taking proactive steps, we build a safer, more resilient future. 

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