By Sarah Allen-Sutter
September is National Preparedness Month, and this is your reminder to prepare for an emergency now, before it is too late! Older adults are often at higher risk when disasters hit, especially if they have a disability, live alone, live in a rural area, or are low-income. These risks can be mitigated if older adults and caregivers prepare for emergencies ahead of time.
Here are three steps you can take now to prepare for a disaster.
STEP 1: MAKE A KIT.
Your kit should include both general emergency supplies and specific items based on your personal needs. Consider making two kits: one for sheltering in place, and one lighter-weight go-bag to take in case of evacuation.
Basic emergency supplies:
Water: one gallon per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
Food: at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food and a can opener if kit contains canned food
Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
Flashlight and extra batteries
First aid kit
Whistle to signal for help
Dust mask and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
Pet food, extra water and supplies for your pet or service animal
Copy of your medical insurance
Copies of important documents like family records, wills, power of attorney documents, deeds, social security numbers, credit card and bank information, and tax records. Try to keep these in a waterproof container.
Additional supplies based on personal need:
Medications and prescriptions: Try to have enough medication to make it on your own for at least a week and bring along a copy of your prescription and dosage instructions.
Medical equipment: If your equipment requires electricity, speak to your doctor about what to do in case of a power outage.
Extra eyeglasses, hearing aids, hearing-aid batteries, wheelchair batteries, oxygen
STEP 2: MAKE A PLAN.
Know your local disasters. In Yolo County, the most common disasters are…
Wildfire (highly likely)
Weather/Public Safety Power Shutoffs (highly likely)
Create a support network who can help you in case of disaster. Share your emergency plan with them, including your evacuation needs. If there are people who help you in your daily life, write their contact information down, so you can contact them in an emergency. Develop a plan to communicate with your family during a disaster. It may be easier to reach somebody out of the disaster area, so try to have a contact available who lives outside your local area.
Know your evacuation plan. Think about what modes of transportation you use and have backups that fit your accessibility. Anticipate where you will go in an evacuation and choose several destinations in different directions, so you have options. Listen to emergency alerts and local authorities for guidance on when to evacuate.
If you have pets, consider their emergency plan. If you evacuate, take your pets with you, if at all possible. Some public shelters only allow service animals, so have a plan ahead of time for shelter alternatives that work for you and your pet. This may mean contacting friends or family outside of your immediate area, locating pet-friendly shelters, or contacting veterinarians who may be willing to take your pet in an emergency.
STEP 3: STAY INFORMED.
Sign up for emergency alerts at www.yolo-alert.org. These will keep you informed when there is a disaster in your area.
Find out ahead of time about PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoffs. Visit http://pge.com/mywildfirealerts, sign in, click “update now”, and provide your contact information. Or call 1-866-743-6589 to provide your contact information.
For a detailed video on signing up for alerts, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQMWq72XE1Y&t=7s.
If you are interested in learning more, visit our emergency preparedness page and watch the online modules that will help you get prepared: https://www.yolohealthyaging.org/education-emergency-and-transport