Preparing for disaster, advice for seniors

by Catherine Haug, July 8, 2017

A reader sent me a link to an interesting article on a website intending to sell the reader burial insurance. The article is titled “11 Critical Ways Seniors Can Prepare for Disaster,” by John Hawthorne (1).  It does have good advice, but I’m reluctant to make a link to the article because of its advertising intent. So I will paraphrase it in this post, adding my comments or additional information as applicable. You can always google the title and author’s name for the link.

To see all articles concerning preparedness on this site, go to Emergency Preparedness Articles.

Preparing for disaster: advice for seniors

#1: Learn in advance what kind of natural disasters could occur in your area, such as earthquakes, volcanos, tornados, hurricanes, forest fires, snow storms, etc.. This will help you to prepare effectively.

#2: Create an escape route; this may be different for different disasters. This advice applies to only to paths/roadways to get out of your community, and also how to get out of your house so you won’t get trapped. Then identify a specific meeting point for your family, to ensure all are safe.

#3: Get to know your community, and whether/how it is prepared for disaster. This is especially important for people like me who live alone and don’t have anyone in the neighborhood to care for you if a disaster occurs. This includes:

  • Local radio/TV stations where emergency info will be broadcast;
  • Community warning systems such as sirens;
  • Locations of local disaster shelters;
  • Transportation methods for those without vehicles.”

Here in our community of greater Bigfork, this includes: Flood Information Hotline – Flathead Co. OES.

#4: Establish points of communication. Who will be checking in on you? Create a check-in plan: who can check on you? what do your connections do if they haven’t heard from you?

#5: Prepare an emergency kit, and keep it regularly maintained. This includes (links to articles on this site:  an All Natural First Aid Kit, and emergency food kit such as Cat’s 4-Day Grab & Go Emergency Food Pack and Preparing an Emergency 4-day (96 hour) Food & Water Pack. And from the article, the kit should contain the following:

  • A three day supply of water, assuming one gallon per person per day
  • A three day supply of non-perishable food.
  • A flashlight and batteries (replace batteries once per year)
  • A first aid kit
  • Basic hygiene items
  • Waterproof matches
  • Blanket
  • Copies of all essential information, such as identification and credit cards
  • Cash and coins
  • Basic cooking utensils
  • A multi-purpose tool
  • A cell phone charger (update to current model)
  • A whistle
  • Any special items, such as medication, glasses, hearing aid batteries, etc.

Here’s a 3+ minute YouTube video about preparing such a kit:

#6: Create an emergency contact card for each member of the family, to help strangers care for them. Each card should include:

  • Medications
  • Allergies
  • Blood type
  • Immunizations
  • Adaptive equipment (pacemaker, etc.)
  • Communication difficulties
  • Emergency contact information

#7: Take a home inventory, for filing insurance claims. I recommend taking photographs of things you care about, and written descriptions. Store the list in a safe place. Make a copy and give to a close friend in case your copy is destroyed.

#8: Know CPR. Here’s a 6 minute YouTube video:

#9: Check and maintain fire extinguishers. Everyone should have at least one for the kitchen, and all should be checked at least once a year to be sure they still work.

#10: Copy essential documents; this includes your drivers’ license or other personal ID, SSN card, passport, will, deeds, financial statements,and insurance info. Place the copies in a safe, offsite location. A safe deposit box is one option, but make sure you can always have access to your key. Another option is leaving the copies with someone you can trust with such info.

#11: Take note of any special needs:

  • Special escape route, and way to transport wheelchair(s). If motorized, consider backup batteries;
  • Visual issues: keep a cane with whistle attached, nearby at all times. Also have a plan for circumstances like your escape route being blocked
  • Hearing aids: include extra replacement batteries in your emergency kit.

Other sites of interest:


  1. 11 Critical Ways Seniors Can Prepare for Disaster,” by John Hawthorne (google this text for the entire article, if you are interested.


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