Disaster Planning

Planning for a regional disaster or personal emergency could mean the difference between life and death. For older adults, this is especially important because older adults often have specific needs, in particular medication regimes, medical monitoring, or mobility issues. It is recommended that older adults create a personal support network made up of several individuals who will check in on you in an emergency, to ensure your wellness and to give assistance if needed. This network can consist of friends, roommates, family members, relatives, personal attendants, co-workers and neighbors. Ideally, a minimum of three people can be identified at each location where you regularly spend time, for example at work, home, school or volunteer site.

There are seven important items to discuss and implement with a personal support network:

  1. Make arrangements, prior to an emergency, for your support network to immediately check on you after a disaster and, if needed, offer assistance.
  2. Exchange important keys.
  3. Show them where you keep emergency supplies.
  4. Share copies of your relevant emergency documents, evacuation plans and emergency health information card.
  5. Agree on and practice methods for contacting each other in an emergency. Do not count on the telephones working.
  6. You and your personal support network should always notify each other when you are going out of town and when you will return.
  7. The relationship should be mutual. You have a lot to contribute! Learn about each other's needs and how to help each other in an emergency. You might take responsibility for food supplies and preparation, organizing neighborhood watch meetings and interpreting, among other things.

Information adapted from the American Red Cross.

Store these items in easy to carry containers (plastic boxes, durable bags) near the exit door of your home:

  • Family Emergency contact information
  • Three-day supply of food (non-perishable, canned or boxed)
  • Manual can opener
  • Three-day supply of water (one gallon per person, per day)
  • Maps
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Radio with extra batteries
  • Cell phone with charger
  • First aid kit
  • Hand sanitizer, moist towelettes, toilet paper, other hygiene items needed
  • Matches in waterproof container
  • Whistle (for communication-1 blow for “Yes”, 2 blows for “No”, 3 blows for “Help” or for a warning signal)
  • Extra clothes and blankets (more if it’s winter or a colder climate)
  • Photocopies of identification, credit cards, and other important documents (store in plastic bags)
  • Cash and coins (ATMs may not be working)
  • Medical supplies (extra medicine, glasses, hearing aid batteries)
  • Garbage bags and duct tape
  • Tools (wrench, screwdrivers, hammer)
  • Pet supplies, if necessary

Update your kit at least once a year as your needs change. Throw out expired items or canned goods that are swollen, dented, or corroded and replace water every 6 months. 


Disaster Planning Information: