Emergency Preparedness for Older Adults

snow stormThe weather has been harsh this winter and it’s not over yet. Being prepared for Canadian winter hazards, such as ice storms and blizzards, will ensure that you are not left out in the cold.

Public Safety Canada has created a resource called Your Emergency Preparedness Guide to help residents prepare for emergencies. The guide outlines the following three steps:

Step 1: Know the Risks

It’s important to know which weather events the area you live in is most susceptible to, and to plan accordingly. The Canadian Disaster Database can help you to learn about the risks specific to your area. The Government of Canada ‘Get Prepared’ webpage outlines hazards and emergencies across Canada.

Step 2: Make a Plan

Create an emergency plan. The plan should cover special health needs, meeting places and emergency contact information. A detailed list of the information necessary to make a plan is in the Your Emergency Preparedness Guide.

Step 3: Get an Emergency Kit

Create a kit that is easy to carry. According to the Your Emergency Preparedness Guide a basic kit should include:

  • At least 2 litres of water per person per day
  • Food that won’t spoil
  • Manual can opener
  • Flashlight
  • Radio
  • First aid kit
  • Cash
  • Copy of your emergency plan
  • Prescriptions, baby formula, equipment for individuals with disabilities (if applicable)

Prepackaged 72 hour kits are also available from the Canadian Red Cross.

The MIT AgeLab partnered with The Hartford Centre for Mature Market ExcellenceSM “to conduct research with people age 50+ in disaster prone areas to learn about their concerns, preparations and real-world experiences with different types of natural disasters”. The research informed a comprehensive guidebook called It Could Happen to Me – Family Conversations About Disaster Planning. The guidebook includes detailed planning resources specifically for older adults and their families.

To explain how important it is for older adults to have an emergency plan the guidebook points out that, “nearly three quarters of the people who died in the New Orleans area as a result of Hurricane Katrina were age 60 and over, although only 15 percent of the population of New Orleans fell into that age group”.

Be prepared for the frigid temperatures of a Canadian winter by following the government of Canada’s seven steps to cold weather safety. Older adults are at increased risk for hypothermia and falls during the winter months. The National Institute on Aging created a comprehensive Stay Safe in Cold Weather guide on hypothermia.

 Stay warm and safe. Only 57 days left of winter!

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