NEW YORK — 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.
“We all care deeply about the older adults in our lives, and during the pandemic they are more vulnerable than ever,” said Susan Rounds, Interim CEO, American Red Cross in Greater NY. “Now is the time to ask if they need help assessing their needs and making a plan, before an emergency occurs.”
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.
ONLINE RESOURCES TO HELP GET ADULTS AND CHILDREN PREPARED:
Preparedness for Adults: Prepare, Respond, Recover: What to do When Disaster Strikes – In partnership with New York State, the Red Cross is providing free this emergency preparedness training. The training gives a comprehensive overview on how to prepare for natural and man-made disasters and how to respond to and recover from them. The training also provides information on types of common disasters, ways to prepare as an individual, family and community member, what to do when disaster strikes and what actions you can take afterwards to aid in your recovery. The presentation, of course, will touch on COVID-19 safety and preparedness, but the theme of the conversation will be much broader than the virus. It will draw our attention to many of the different hazards we could be confronted with and the different ways we can better prepare and stay safe in the face of these often unexpected emergencies. Virtual classes are offered via WebEx weekly. www.redcross.org/gnyprepare
Take a First Aid and CPR/Course online to learn what to do in case emergency help is delayed. Download the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to weather alerts for your area and where loved ones live. Expert medical guidance and a hospital locator are included in the First Aid App in case travelers encounter any mishaps. These apps are available to download for free in app stores or at redcross.org/apps.
Preparedness for Kids: The Pillowcase Project – The Pillowcase Project is an interactive preparedness education program, typically taught in a classroom setting, for children in grades 3 through 5 that teaches kids how to prepare for emergencies, practice what they have learned, and share their knowledge with family and friends. The idea is that when an emergency occurs, everyone in the child’s family knows what to do and how to help each other stay safe. As part of this age-appropriate lesson the kids will also learn skills to help them cope with the emotional brought on by these different emergencies. The Pillowcase Project virtual classes can be scheduled for small groups on demand by emailing Olga.Wallace@redcross.org.
Additional resources for preparing during the COVID-19 pandemic are available at redcross.org/coronavirus.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.