Preparedness for Older Adults

Are you an older adult? If so, please take responsibility and prepare now for potential emergencies that may affect you and your family.

Disasters can strike quickly and without warning. Even if you have physical limitations, you can still protect yourself. In the event of an emergency, local officials and relief workers may not be able to reach everyone right away, so take responsibility. Keep in touch with your neighbors, look out for each other and be aware of anyone who may need special help. Knowing what to do is your best protection.

By planning ahead, you can avoid waiting in long lines for critical supplies, such as food, water and medicine.

Winter weather preparedness and older adults

As we age, cold weather can be extremely dangerous. Plummeting temperatures can lead to icy sidewalks, hypothermia and other serious injuries.
This winter, check in the with older adults you know, neighbors, friends and relatives, and share these winter safety tips.

If an older adult receives in-home care services or resides at a long-term care facility, be sure to ask their care providers what their protocol is for emergency situations.

Winter weather safety tips

Have a plan that will allow you to remain in place for at least three days in case are unable to leave your home due to weather conditions or other emergencies. Prepare an emergency kit to have in case you lose power.

Learn what an emergency kit should contain >>

In addition to standard emergency kit items, older adults may want to consider other steps to ensure you have what you need in an emergency, such as:

  • Add spare glasses and hearing aid batteries to your emergency kits.
  • Include a backup supply of medications you take (ask your pharmacist for advice on safe storage) and copies of your prescriptions.
  • Keep ice packs in the freezer and a soft-sided cooler near your kits for medications that need to be kept cool.
  • Make sure assistive equipment such as canes, walkers, oxygen tanks, etc., are easy to locate in an emergency, and have non-powered options for equipment that will not work without electricity.
  • Have specific supplies to ensure personal comfort and hygiene, such as bathing products, commode lines, incontinence supplies, latex gloves and other supplies, will help ensure a fundamental daily routine and quality of care change as little as possible during and after an emergency.
  • Be prepared to quickly explain to rescue workers how to move you or help you move safely and quickly.
  • Ask a reliable family member, friend or neighbor to visit or call you in an emergency to make sure you are okay and agree on a plan for what they should do if they are unable to reach you or find you needing help.

In addition, take special care during wintry conditions to prevent falls:

  • Wear boots and shoes that fit properly and have soles with good traction.
  • Slow down and give yourself extra time to get where you’re going.
  • Make sure steps leading into your home have sturdy handrails that can support you if you slip.
  • Watch for slippery surfaces ahead of you – keep your head up and use your eyes to look down.
  • Don’t try to walk in more than an inch of snow – deeper accumulations can cause you to trip.
  • Ask your health care provider about indoor exercises that can help you build and maintain balance, strength and stamina when you can’t venture out.
  • Watch for tripping hazards in your home, such as blankets and cords.
  • Invest in extra lamps and brighter lights for inside and outside walkways and stairs.
  • When in doubt, ask for help.


Disaster preparation checklist for seniors

For your safety and comfort, have at least three days’ worth of emergency supplies (both medical and general) packed and ready in an easy-to-carry container, such as a backpack or duffel bag. Make sure your bag has an identification tag and label any equipment, such as wheelchairs, canes or walkers that you need.

Be prepared to go to a shelter if your area is without electrical power; if there is a chemical emergency affecting your area; if flood water is rising; if your home has been severely damaged; or if police or other local officials tell you to evacuate.

Your medical information list should include:

  • Your medical care providers’ contact information.
  • Names and dosages of medications you use.
  • Details about adaptive equipment and/or body system support equipment you use.
  • A list of your allergies and sensitivities.
  • Instructions for dealing with communication or cognitive difficulties.
  • Copies of your health insurance cards and related information
  • Extra copies of your prescriptions.

If you need to evacuate:

In some communities, people who need help or transportation during an evacuation are asked to register that need with their local government. Call your local emergency management office for information and suggestions about what to do during an evacuation.

If you are sure you have enough time before evacuating:

For more information, contact your local emergency management office.