Red Cross shares new tips for older adults and their families to get ready for disasters during the coronavirus pandemic
According to new research from the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council and the American Academy of Nursing, older adults are more vulnerable and experience more casualties after a natural disaster compared to other age groups. That’s why this National Preparedness Month, the Red Cross encourages everyone, especially older adults, to get ready for emergencies.
Being prepared for disasters is important for people of all ages. But there are several factors that make older adults more vulnerable during a natural disaster:
- Older adults may have more chronic conditions and medication concerns.
- They may be more dependent on assistive devices like walkers and eyeglasses, and support from caregivers.
- Living in social isolation can also make them more vulnerable.
“Some older adults may have functional limitations which put them at greater risk and make it harder for them to get out of harm’s way,” said Samir K. Sinha MD, DPhil, FRCPC, AGSF, member of the Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council, and Director of Geriatrics of the Sinai Health System and the University Health Network in Toronto. “We are encouraging people to ask the older adults in their lives if they need help preparing and responding to disasters.”
PREPARE IN ADVANCE To be prepared, older adults should think about what they would do during a disaster before it occurs. Understand how your medical, physical and cognitive needs may affect your ability to respond if you had to stay in your home for two weeks or more or had to evacuate. Building a support network and identifying helpers such as family, friends, neighbors, caregivers and care providers who may be able to assist is vital. Older adults should meet with these supporters and decide how to communicate in an emergency.
Additional research findings and resources, including our new Disaster and Emergency Preparedness for Older Adults checklist and booklet, are available at redcross.org/olderadults.
DISASTERS DURING A PANDEMIC Preparing for emergencies is a little different this year, but the three basic action steps remain the same for everyone: Build a Kit, Make a Plan and Be Informed. Assemble two kits of emergency supplies (a stay-at-home kit and an evacuation kit) and a one-month supply of prescription medication. Include personal hygiene items, cleaning and disinfectant supplies and cloth face coverings. Some supplies may be hard to get due to the pandemic, and availability may worsen in a disaster, so start gathering supplies now.
Disasters can force people to leave their homes, even in areas under stay-at-home mandates. By having an emergency plan your family can react quickly if a disaster strikes.
- Ask friends or relatives outside your area if you would be able to stay with them.
- Check and see if they have any COVID-19 symptoms or have people in their home at higher risk for serious illness. If they do, make other arrangements.
- Check with hotels, motels and campgrounds to see if they are open and if pets are allowed.
- Due to the pandemic, stay current on advice and restrictions from your state and local public health authorities as it may affect your actions, available resources and shelter facilities.
- Learn first aid and CPR skills so you’ll know what to do until emergency help arrives.
- Download the free Red Cross Emergency app for weather alerts and information on what to do before, during and after disasters.
Additional resources for preparing during the COVID-19 pandemic are available at redcross.org/coronavirus.
BLOOD, VOLUNTEERS NEEDED Severe weather during a pandemic can have an even greater impact on the ability of the Red Cross to collect lifesaving blood products due to an increase in canceled blood drives and decreased donor turnout in impacted areas. The need for blood is constant, and volunteer donors are the only source of blood for those in need. If you are feeling well, please make an appointment today to give by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 800-RED-CROSS.
As you prepare for disasters, the Red Cross is preparing too. We encourage people to join us by volunteering in their local community. A variety of positions are available including disaster shelter and health supervisors. Find out more at redcross.org/volunteer.
CORPORATIONS, FOUNDATIONS AND ORGANIZATIONS HELP The generous donations from members of the Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program (ADGP) and the Disaster Responder Program enable the American Red Cross to prepare communities for disasters big and small, respond whenever and wherever disasters occur and help families during the recovery process.
ADGP $1 Million members are: Amazon; American Airlines; Anheuser-Busch Foundation; Anthem Foundation; Bank of America; Caterpillar Foundation; Costco Wholesale; Delta Air Lines; Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation; FedEx; The Home Depot Foundation; Latter-day Saint Charities; Lilly Endowment Inc.; Marathon Petroleum Foundation, Inc.; Microsoft Corp.; Nationwide Foundation; State Farm; UPS; VSP Global; Walmart and the Walmart Foundation; The Walt Disney Company; and Wells Fargo.
ADGP $500,000 members are: Altria Group; Aon; Capital One; Citi Foundation; The Clorox Company; The Coca-Cola Foundation; Darden Foundation; Delta Dental Community Care Foundation; Discover; Edison International; Energy Transfer/Sunoco Foundation; Fidelity Charitable Trustees’ Initiative; Ford Motor Company; Fox Corporation; General Motors; Grainger; HCA Healthcare; IBM Corporation; International Paper; The J.M. Smucker Company; Johnson Controls Foundation; The Kroger Co. Foundation; LHC Group; Lowe's Companies, Inc.; Merck Foundation; Mondelēz International Foundation; New Balance Foundation; PayPal; PepsiCo Foundation; Progressive Insurance; PwC Charitable Foundation; San Manuel Band of Mission Indians; Sands Cares; Southwest Airlines; The Starbucks Foundation; Takeda Pharmaceuticals; Target; The TJX Companies, Inc.; Toyota; United Airlines; The USAA Foundation, Inc.; Visa Foundation; and The Wawa Foundation.
Disaster Responder Program members are: 7-Eleven Cares Foundation; Adobe; American Express; Assurant; AstraZeneca; AT&T; AvalonBay Communities, Inc.; Avangrid Foundation; The Ball Foundation; Barclays; BMW of North America; CarMax; Choice Hotels International; Cisco Foundation; CNA Insurance; The Coca-Cola Company; The Coca-Cola Foundation; Consumer Cellular; CSX; DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation; Dominion Energy; Duke Energy; Duke Realty; Equitable; Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation; Harbor Freight Tools Foundation, LLC; Hewlett Packard Enterprise Foundation; HP Foundation; Humble Bundle; The Kraft Heinz Company Foundation; Lenovo; Liberty Mutual Insurance; Mastercard; Neiman Marcus Group; Northrop Grumman; Northwestern Mutual and the Northwestern Mutual Foundation; Old Dominion Freight Line; The Pfizer Foundation; Procter & Gamble; Prudential Financial; Raytheon Technologies; Rodan + Fields Prescription for Change Foundation; Ryder System, Inc.; Security Finance’s Lending Hand Foundation; Southeastern Grocers Home of BI-LO Harveys Winn Dixie; Tata Consultancy Services; TD Ameritrade; Trane Technologies; U-Haul International; and U.S. Bank Foundation.