How well you pull through an emergency often rests on how well you plan and prepare for such events. While each person’s skills and needs differ, everyone can take steps to get ready for all types of emergencies.
Older North Carolinians can use the list below to get ready for an emergency.
- Create a personal support network of family, friends and neighbors to help you in an emergency. Talk to them about your needs. This will help other people know how to help you.
- Make lists of emergency and medical information. You should list the names and numbers of whom to call in a medical emergency, as well as an out-of-town contact. If you have a communication disability, make sure your emergency information list has the best way to communicate with you. Keep copies of your emergency contacts in your disaster supplies kit, car, wallet (behind driver's license or primary identification card), and wheelchair pack or at work, etc.
- Keep specialized items ready, including extra wheelchair batteries, oxygen, catheters, medication, food for service animals and any other items you may need. Keep a list of the type and model numbers of the medical devices you require. You need to write out any help you may need to get to a shelter.
- Advocate for yourself. Run through how to fast you can tell someone the best way to safely guide or move you and your adaptive equipment. Give short, clear and specific ways to rescue people (verbally or in writing). For example, say or write out, "Please take my medicine in the refrigerator, or communication device from under the bed." OR "Please do not straighten my knees. They are fused in a bent position." OR "I am deaf. Please write things down for me."
Older adults who receive Social Security or other federal benefits should think about getting their payments electronically. After an emergency, mailed checks can take a long time to get to you. Using direct deposit is safer than a paper check and it saves you a trip to the bank every month. Learn more about Social Security direct deposit.
Form a personal support network to help you get ready for a disaster. People in your group can be roommates, family, neighbors, friends and co-workers. The people you put in your group should be people you trust and who could check to see if you need help. They should know what you can/cannot do and your needs. These people should be able to offer help within minutes. Do not depend on only one person.
- Write down and share your emergency information list, medical information list, disability-related supplies and special equipment list, evacuation plans, relevant emergency documents, and personal disaster plan.
- Give your support network people copies of any keys they may need to get into your home, car, etc.
- Teach those who will help you how to use any special equipment and give medicine in case of an emergency.
- Make sure everyone knows how to leave your home or workplace, and where you will go in case of an emergency.
You need to put in your emergency kit enough medication and medical supplies to last seven days, or longer. Pharmacies and doctor’s offices may not be open for a few days after an emergency.
- Store enough oxygen, medications, battery power, etc. for at least seven days to meet your disability-related needs after a disaster.
- Label your equipment. Stick cards telling how to use and move each item. Make sure the instruction cards are put in a water-resistant bag.
- Keep written copies of your prescriptions, over-the-counter medications and orders for medical equipment (including dosage, treatment and allergy information) in your emergency kit. Having electronic copies on a flash drive would be useful. Having the records in an electronic format could help others who help you.
- If you are able to get an emergency supply of prescription medications or useable medical supplies, be sure to have a plan for switching out your supply. This keeps your medicines up-to-date.
- If you can’t get an emergency supply, talk to your pharmacist or doctor about what else you can do to be ready for an emergency. Be sure to fill prescriptions on the first day you able. Do not wait until the day you run out.
- Some older adults go through routine treatments given by a clinic or hospital or get regular services, such as home health care, treatment or transportation. If you do, talk to your service provider about their emergency plans. Work with them to identify back-up service providers and include them in your personal support network.
- Think about other personal needs such as eyeglasses, hearing aids and hearing aid batteries, wheelchair batteries and oxygen.
Copies of key papers, listed below, need to be put in your emergency supplies kit.
- Family records, wills, deeds, tax records, bank account information, social security cards.
- Medical records with names/contact numbers of your medical providers; names, time and dosage of medications you take and the condition for which you take the medicine; name of the doctor who prescribed it, and the doctor's phone number.
- Records of any adaptive equipment you use, your allergies and sensitivities, and communication or cognitive difficulties you may have.
- Copies of health insurance cards and related information.
Keep this list attached to your emergency information list.