Adults over the age of 65 are a vital part of our communities. In case of disaster or emergency, though, older adults may face more challenges than most in responding to the crisis. Some older adults could have compounding issues that increase their risk during an emergency, such as their access to medical care, income, disability status, and connection to family members. Tacoma Public Utilities wants older adults in our service area to be ready in case of disaster, which may include a prolonged period without access to basic utilities like power or water. Luckily, there are steps that people of all ages can take to help prepare for a crisis.
First, create a communication plan that fits your specific needs in case of emergency. Anyone close to you should be involved in helping create this plan: neighbors, friends, or your family. Establish a contact list with the names and phone numbers of those same close contacts and save it to your phone but also write out a copy for backup in case your phone can’t be charged. Make sure to also establish a plan for the people in your household, as well as your pets and service animals. Make sure each person can contact another in case something goes wrong.
Next, make sure you have a clear evacuation plan. Knowing your exit routes and where you will meet with others in emergencies is a good place to start. If you or an older adult in your life lives in a retirement or assisted living community, learn the evacuation procedures and keep a copy where it is handy. If you require medical assistance or transportation during an emergency, your local emergency management office may have an “opt-in” registry which helps first responders find people right away. You can find information specific to Pierce County on their Emergency Management webpage. The CDC has an easy-to-use care template for those who are likely to need medical assistance in an emergency; it provides additional information about a person’s medical history and other key information.
Finally, build your emergency supply kit. Having a kit is one of the most important factors in ensuring your safety and survival in case of an emergency. Provisions in the kit should last at least 72 hours and be stocked in the bag, like food, water, hearing aids, contact lenses, spare glasses, medications, and a form of identification. Your care plan should also be included in this bag, which will remind you of what to do in case of emergency.