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National Preparedness Month: Older adults take control in 1, 2, 3

September 13, 2023 Robyn Smith, EWEB Communications

A group of older adults in a park put their hands together as a team.

September is National Preparedness Month and this year, the theme for FEMA’s Ready Campaign is “Take Control in 1, 2, 3,”. The campaign focuses on preparing older adults for disasters and all-hazard events.

We know older adults can face greater risks when it comes to the extreme weather events and emergencies we face, especially if they are living alone, are low-income, have a disability, depend on electricity for medical needs, or live in rural areas.

It’s important for older adults, especially those who rely on electricity for medical and mobility needs, to be prepared for a power outage.

Emergency preparedness tips for older adults:

1. Plan how you will communicate if you have a communication need

  • Create a list of emergency contacts, including family members and care providers to assist you if needed during an emergency.
  • Keep a charged portable power bank phone charger in your emergency kit in case of a power outage.

    Help an older adult -

    Make a physical copy of an emergency plan for their home, including emergency contact information (family members/caregivers), household information (address/phone number), emergency plans (what to do if…), emergency meeting places, and medical information.

    2. Plan for foodwater, and essentials for you and pets or service animals. Research pet-friendly evacuation centers.

    • Following a disaster, there may be power outages that could last for several days. Store at least a several-day supply of canned foods, dry mixes and other staples that do not require refrigeration, cooking, water or special preparation.
    • Be sure to have a manual can opener and eating utensils.
    • During a power outage, discard any perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, or leftovers that have been above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours or more.

    Help an older adult -

    Purchase a refrigerator thermometer that they can easily read to check the temperature in the fridge during a power outage. Refrigerated or frozen foods should be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below for proper food storage.

    3. Plan for your transportation if you need help evacuating.

    • Plan and prepare your transportation options in case you need to move to a clinic or hospital for care and assistance during the emergency.
    • Communicate with neighbors who can assist you if you need to evacuate the building.
    • Show others how to assemble, disassemble and operate your wheelchair.
    • Purchase an extra battery for a power wheelchair or other battery-operated medical or assistive technology devices. If you can't purchase an extra battery, find out what agencies, organizations or local charitable groups can help you buy one. Keep extra batteries charged at all times.
    • Keep an extra mobility device such as a cane or walker if you use one.
    • Keep a portable air pump for wheelchair tires.

    4. Include items that meet your individual needs, such as medicines, medical supplies, batteries and chargers, in your emergency supply kit.


      • Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about how you can create an emergency supply of medicines.
      • Keep a list of your prescription medicines. Include information about your diagnosis, dosage, frequency, medical supply needs and allergies.
      • Store extra nonprescription drugs, like pain and fever relievers, antihistamines and antidiarrheal medicines.
      • Have a cooler and chemical ice packs available to chill medicines that need to be refrigerated.

    Individuals with Alzheimer’s and Related Dementia:

      • Do not leave the person alone. Even those who aren’t prone to wandering away may do so in unfamiliar environments or situations.
      • If evacuating, help manage the change in environment by bringing a pillow and blanket or other comforting items they can hold onto.
      • When at a shelter, try to stay away from exits and choose a quiet corner.
      • If there is an episode of agitation, respond to the emotions being expressed. For example, say “You’re frightened and want to go home. It’s ok. I’m right here with you.”

    Individuals with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities:

      • Keep handheld electronic devices charged and loaded with videos and activities.
      • Purchase spare chargers for electronic devices and keep them charged.
      • Include sheets and twine or a small pop-up tent (to decrease visual stimulation in a busy room or to provide instant privacy).
      • Consider a pair of noise-canceling headphones to decrease auditory stimuli.
      • Have comfort snacks available.

    Additional Items:

      • Several days supply of prescription medicines
      • A list of all medications, dosage and any allergies
      • Extra eyeglasses, contacts, hearing aids and batteries
      • A backup supply of oxygen
      • A list of the style and serial number of medical devices (include special instructions for operating your equipment if needed)
      • Copies of insurance and Medicare cards
      • Contact information for doctors, relatives or friends who should be notified if you are hurt
      • Pet food, extra water, collar with ID tag, medical records and other supplies for your service or support animal

    Help an older adult -

    Access and research emergency preparedness information on the internet. Take them on a shopping trip to restock their emergency preparedness kit.

    5. Make copies of Medicaid, Medicare, and other insurance cards.

    Help an older adult -

    Copy and print out important medical information to keep in their emergency kit.

    6. Create a personal support network

    • If you anticipate needing assistance during a disaster, make a list of family, friends and others who will be part of your plan. Talk to these people and ask them to be part of your support network.
    • Share each aspect of your emergency plan with everyone in your group, including a friend or relative in another area who would not be impacted by the same emergency who can help if necessary.
    • Make sure everyone knows how you plan to evacuate your home or workplace and where you will go in case of a disaster.
    • Make sure that someone in your personal support network has an extra key to your home and knows where you keep your emergency supplies.
    • Practice your plan with those who have agreed to be part of your personal support network.

    Help an older adult -

    By being a part of their personal support network.

    PSPS Enhanced Support Program

    Do you or a loved one rely on electricity to keep medications cold or to use life-sustaining medical equipment or mobility devices? If so, it’s important to have an emergency plan in place for a planned or unexpected power outage. 

    We know that no one likes to lose power, and power outages during the heat of summer and wildfire season can create a different set of challenges for residents. This is especially true for customers who rely on electricity for medications, medical equipment, and mobility devices. That’s why we’re offering enhanced support for customers who may need additional assistance during a summer outage, such as a Public Safety Power Shutoff or PSPS.  

    Sign up for EWEB’s PSPS Enhanced Support Program so we know who you are and can support you with: 

    • Direct phone call notification 24-48 hours ahead of a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS).
    • Coordination and information sharing with helping agencies and emergency services for critical unmet needs 

    Who’s eligible for this program? 

    • Customers who reside within EWEB’s High-Risk Fire Zone territory (or caregiver/guardian of someone who resides within the high-risk territory) 
    • Customers with medical equipment or a medical need for electricity (such as a fridge for insulin) 
    • Customers who have serious health conditions and/or limited mobility.

        Sign-up here

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