Carol Adelman never thought about disaster preparedness.
“It’s not something you think about all the time with a bunch of older people,” she said.
“But I’m old and I need to know things, like, ‘How do I get out if the power is out?’”
Fortunately for her and the other residents of Grundy Manor in Bucks County, the Public Health Fund and American Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania have joined together to give seniors the tools they need to effectively prepare themselves and their loved ones for any emergency.
Reaching Elders and Seniors with Preparedness Education Concepts and Tools, or RESPECT for short, is only in its second year, but thus far has reached more than 370 senior citizens. With more than 10 sites in Philadelphia and Bucks Counties and plans to expand throughout the Southeastern Pennsylvania region, program manager Mike Kiley-Zufelt hopes RESPECT serves as a model for other organizations.
“Seniors are at a higher risk to the effects of disaster than the general population,” he said. “Many groups have produced a variety of resources providing seniors with tips and information related to disaster preparedness, but none of these organizations has put together a disaster preparedness education program that speaks to the specific needs of seniors and does so in a way that addresses the learning styles that work best for the senior population.”
RESPECT program participants attend the class once a week for three weeks, and at the end of the class, they receive materials to make their own disaster kit. The program is free for participants thanks to support from Public Health Fund. During the course, they are taught an adapted version of Red Cross’ “Be Red Cross Ready” program with considerations for their age. Tessi Ruiz, a bilingual Preparedness Coordinator with Red Cross, ensures that the information is available in both English and Spanish.
Since attending the classes on participant said, “I feel empowered now that I got the information and the kit. I probably should have done this a long time ago.”