Resources for Family Caregivers of Older Adults

Search Senior Care Corner

Disasters Can Strike Anytime – Ensure Senior Loved Ones are Prepared

Disasters Can Strike Anytime – Ensure Senior Loved Ones are Prepared

  • Print Friendly and PDF

Is your senior love one prepared for disaster?

Reminders are very helpful, especially for family caregivers who have so many responsibilities — not only for the well-being of their senior loved one but for themselves and their own families.

National Preparedness Month is 30 days of reminders.

It is that time again to be reminded about getting ready for emergencies. There are many things that we can do to prepare our senior loved ones for a variety of emergencies and give you peace of mind they are ready to weather any storm.

Disasters can strike without warning so it is imperative we help prepare our seniors ahead of time. Getting supplies in their home is just one small piece of the puzzle to help them be prepared.

Let’s all get some good reminders about what we should do now to prepare seniors for emergencies.


Have you thought about what might happen to your senior loved one in the case of emergency?

In the part of the country where they live, what is the most likely to occur – flood, tornado, earthquake, hurricane, power outages, mudslide, or forest fire? Each disaster requires a different approach to preparedness.

Each state and municipality has an emergency management office that could assist you to learn more about the particular issues that might need to be addressed in the area where your senior lives. Contact them for more guidance if needed.

Depending on the particular type of catastrophe that could present itself, will your senior need to evacuate or can they seek safety in their home to ride out the storm?

Will they require emergency power for medical equipment during and after an emergency?

Do they have adequate supplies of food, water and medications to see them through 3-7 days of the storm’s aftermath or potentially longer?

Can they complete preparations in their home to see them through a storm, such as storm windows or clearing the outside of potential debris such as garbage cans or lawn furniture, or will they need assistance from family or paid handymen?

Before and After an Emergency

What can you do now to help them prepare and what needs to be put into action weeks or days ahead of a storm and most importantly, what will need to be done immediately after an emergency?

If you are a long distance caregiver, is your network in place and ready to react on your part in the event of an emergency?

Are their important documents stored in a safe and waterproof place such as advance directives, insurance policies, bank records and IDs? Can copies be kept in an alternate location?

Are their government benefits sent electronically in case the mail is disrupted? If not, set that up now so that they don’t get short of cash waiting for the mail to arrive.

Keep some cash on hand in case of an emergency in case the bank is unable to open or the ATM without power or empty!


How is your family unit structured to communicate before, during and after an emergency – – or is it?

Is adequate technology available to communicate with your senior loved one, especially if you are at a distance, to check on their status and safety? Do they have a smartphone that is data-ready to communicate via Skype or Facetime if needed?

Does the family have a contact person designated who can be the spokesperson to let everyone know what is happening and provide updates and instructions?

If needed, does your senior have a way to provide medical information to healthcare personnel? Is their information stored in a smartphone app or do they have some means to show a temporary record including medications and health history?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a form that you can complete called “Keep It With You” that they can have ready.


Do your senior loved ones have enough medications on hand so that they don’t run out of necessary prescription or over-the-counter medications that might be needed for longer than a few days?

Do they have a first aid kit that is up to date and equipped for multiple emergencies?

Do they have enough potable water for themselves, anyone in the house and their pets for an extended period in case of emergency? It is recommended that there be 1 gallon of water a day for each person and pet in the household.

Do they have a means to get emergency weather information if the power goes out and ample batteries to power it?

How can they call for help if needed? Where is the phone number kept and who should they call first?

Do they have adequate clothing or blankets to see them through the emergency?

Is everything they might need in one place so that they don’t have to scramble to locate flashlights, batteries, radio and all their other supplies? Can these be put in one closet or shelf for easy access?

If they are going to a shelter to weather the storm, do they know what they can and can’t take with them and how they will get there? If their medications require refrigeration, can the shelter provide this or do they need to keep them cold in a cooler with ice?

Is the car sufficiently gassed up in case they are unable to get gas after a storm and need to find safety in another location? During storm season it is a good idea to always keep the car fully fueled.

Home Prep

Is there a fire extinguisher in the home? Are smoke alarms in proper working order?

Is there bleach available in case the water needs to be sanitized before drinking?

When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.

Do they have activities to relieve boredom after the storm while waiting for power to be restored, such as board games, cards, books, etc.?

Is a tarp part of your prep kit in case there is a breach in the roof that requires repair?

Is there a home tool box available to perform minor repairs and shut off for water or gas?

Are there items around the outside of the house that need to be stored or removed to a different location in the face of bad weather so as not to be blown around creating damage? Can your senior move these themselves or do they need assistance securing their property?

Community Resources

It is important that family caregivers know what resources are available in their senior loved one’s community.

Is there an evacuation shelter nearby?

Can you list your senior with the local first responders to check in for their safety such as police, fire department, and local utility provider? If they are dependent on power for medical devices, it is good to let their utility know they have a need.

Is there a specific radio station that can provide important safety information that they should be tuned to such as boil water notices or evacuation instructions?

The better prepared your senior is to weather any disaster, the more likely they will recover quickly from any disaster.

Measures can be taken and updated each year to be sure they are as safe and prepared to handle emergencies as possible.

Discuss preparations with them regularly so that they know who to call, what to do and where all their resources are located. Decide if they will stay or go and how they will get to an evacuation shelter.

We can’t prevent disaster from striking but we can be prepared to cope with it as effectively and safely as possible!

We'd love to hear your thoughts!

Get Weekly Email Updates