National Preparedness Month Focuses on Older Adults

National Preparedness Month is an observance each September to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time. This year’s National Preparedness Month campaign focuses on preparing the community, concentrating on older adults, for disaster. Older adults can face greater risks regarding the multitude of extreme weather events and emergencies we now face, especially if they live alone, are low-income, have a disability, or live in rural areas. While each person’s abilities and needs are unique, everyone can prepare for all kinds of emergencies by evaluating their needs and making an emergency plan that fits them. Today's planning and preparation significantly enhance your ability to recover from emergencies in three simple steps: Get a Kit; Make a Plan; and Be Informed.

Step One: Get a Kit
Plan to make it on your own, with enough supplies for at least three days. You may not have access to a medical facility or a drugstore. You and your family must consider what resources you use daily and what you might do if those resources are limited or unavailable.

Basic Supplies: Think first about the basics for survival – food, water, clean air and any life-sustaining items you require. Consider two kits. In one kit put everything you will need to shelter in place for several days. The other kit should be a lightweight, smaller version you can take if you have to leave home. For a full list of supplies please visit: https://www.ready.gov/kit.

Recommended basic emergency supplies include:
•    Water, one gallon of water per person/pet 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 the kit contains canned food
•    Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
•    Flashlight/Headlamp and extra batteries
•    First aid kit
•    Whistle to signal for help
•    Dust mask to help filter contaminated air 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
•    Local maps
•    Pet food, extra water and supplies for your pet or service animal FEMA R-5

Medications and Medical Supplies:
If you take medicine or use a medical treatment daily, be sure you have what you need on hand to make it on your own for at least a week. You should also keep a copy of your prescriptions and dosage or treatment information. If it is not possible to have a week-long supply of medicines and supplies, keep as much as possible on hand and talk to your pharmacist or doctor about what else you should do to prepare.

If you undergo routine treatments administered by a clinic or hospital or receive regular services such as home health care, treatment or transportation, talk to your service provider about their emergency plans. Work with them to identify backup service providers within your area and the areas you might evacuate to. If you use medical equipment in your home that requires electricity to operate, talk to your healthcare provider about how to prepare for its use during a power outage and sign up for priority restoration with your power provider.

Additional Items: There may be other things specific to your personal needs that you should also have on hand. If you use eyeglasses, hearing aids and hearing aid batteries, wheelchair batteries, and oxygen, always have extras in your home. Also have copies of your medical insurance, Medicare and Medicaid cards readily available.

Emergency Documents: Include copies of important documents in your emergency supply kits such as family records, wills, power of attorney documents, deeds, social security numbers, credit card and bank information, and tax records. It is best to keep these documents in a waterproof container. Include everyone in your personal support network and medical providers' names and numbers. Also, be sure you have cash or traveler's checks in your kits if you need to purchase supplies.

Step Two: Make a Plan
The reality of a disaster situation is that you will likely not have access to everyday conveniences. To plan in advance, think through the details of your everyday life. If there are people who assist you daily, list who they are, and how you will contact them in an emergency. Create your support network by identifying others to help you in an emergency. Think about what modes of transportation you use and what alternative modes could serve as backups. If you require handicap accessible transportation be sure your alternatives are also accessible. For every aspect of your daily routine, plan an alternative procedure. Make a plan and write it down. Keep a copy of your plan in your emergency supply kits and a list of important information and contacts in your wallet. Share your plan with your family, friends, care providers and others in your support network.

Create a Personal Support Network: If you anticipate needing assistance during a disaster, make a list of family, friends and others who will be part of your plan. Talk to these people and ask them to be part of your support network. Share each aspect of your emergency plan with everyone in your group, including a friend or relative in another area who would not be impacted by the same emergency who can help if necessary. Make sure everyone knows how you plan to evacuate your home or workplace and where you will go in case of a disaster. Ensure that someone in your personal support network has an extra key to your home and knows where you keep your emergency supplies. Practice your plan with those who have agreed to be part of your personal support network.

Develop a Family Communications Plan: Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so plan to contact one another and review your actions in different situations. Consider a plan where each family member calls or emails, the same friend or relative in an emergency. It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact, not in the impacted area, may be better positioned to communicate among separated family members. You may have trouble getting through, or the phone system may be down altogether, but be patient. For more information on how to develop a family communications plan visit www.ready.gov .

Consider Your Pets: Whether you stay put in an emergency or evacuate to a safer location, you must plan in advance for your pets and service animals. Remember that what’s best for you is typically what’s best for your animals. If you must evacuate, take your pets with you, if possible. However, if you go to a public shelter, it is important to understand that only service animals may be allowed inside. Plan in advance for shelter alternatives that will work for you and your pets; consider loved ones or friends outside of your immediate area, pet-friendly shelters and veterinarians willing to take in 
you and your pets in an emergency. For more information about pet preparedness, visit www.ready.gov.

Step three: Be Informed
Some things you can do to prepare for the unexpected, such as assembling an emergency supply kit and making an emergency plan, are the same regardless of the type of emergency. However, staying informed about what might happen and knowing what types of emergencies will likely affect your region is important. You can access Stafford County’s Hazard Mitigation Plan to review the County’s hazards and mitigation projects. You can also sign up to receive emergency notifications including severe weather, road closures, school or government closures with Stafford Alert. Stafford County employees can log on to iStafford for information and update or download the Stafford County Igloo app for notifications from the Communications team. 

These three simple steps can help you and your household recover faster during emergencies For more resources or tips on preparing, please visit www.ready.gov.