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North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services

   

Disaster Preparedness

Disaster can strike without much warning. Fires, floods, tornados, hurricanes, heat waves, ice and snow storms, and toxic spills are among the possible dangers in North Carolina. Older adults can be especially vulnerable in disasters. Planning to call "911" when disaster strikes is not a sufficient emergency plan, according to North Carolina emergency officials. There may be no telephone service, limited emergency vehicles, and no shelters set up to handle special medical and other needs.

What follows is both for consumers and service providers. The Division's contact person is Joseph Breen and Nancy Evans.




Special Notes for Seniors

he Division of Aging and Adult Services recommends that older adults have an individual emergency plan and an emergency kit at home that can go with them in case there is a need to evacuate. The plan and kit can also help "shelter in place" if emergency officials request people to stay in their homes.

How You May Be Notified of a Possible Emergency:

  • NOAA Weather Radio: These special radios provide the earliest warning with an alarm that will alert you in case of anticipated bad weather. To learn more, call your county Emergency Management office.

  • Commercial Radio and Television Stations.

  • Door to door warning from local emergency officials.

  • Special telephone alert programs in some communities for persons registered in advance on a Special Needs Registry: Contact your local senior center, council on aging or county Emergency Management office for information about whether this program is available locally.

  • Through a "buddy system" you have arranged with a close neighbor or friend to watch out for each other.

Emergency Kit:

For your safety and comfort, you need to have emergency supplies packed and ready in one place before a disaster hits. By planning ahead you can avoid waiting in long lines for critical supplies such as food, water, and medicine. You should assemble enough supplies to last for three days in an easy-to-carry container such as a back pack or overnight bag. Be sure your bag has an I.D. tag. Label any equipment such as canes or walkers that you would need. Your kit should include:

  • Medical supplies: first-aid kit; prescription medicines, list of medications and dosages; extra eyeglasses and special need supplies such as hearing aid batteries, extra wheelchair batteries, oxygen; style and serial number of medical devices such as pacemakers; medical insurance and Medicare cards; list of doctors and relatives or friends who should be notified if you are injured, with their address and telephone numbers.

  • General supplies: Battery powered radio and flashlight with extra batteries for each; change of clothing, rain gear and sturdy, flat-heeled shoes; blanket or sleeping bag; extra set of keys; cash, credit cards, change; personal hygiene supplies; insurance agent's name and number.

  • In addition, if you do not need to evacuate your home you will need: water supply--one gallon per day per person for at least three days in sealed, unbreakable containers (replace every six months); non-perishable food supply; manual can-opener; non-perishable food for pets.

Publications available at no charge from your local or area American Red Cross chapter include: "Disaster Preparedness for Seniors by Seniors;" "Preparing for Emergencies: A Checklist for People with Mobility Problems," and many others. Also contact your county Emergency Management office for free publications, including: "Hurricane Awareness-Action Guidelines for Senior Citizens," "Emergency Food and Water Supplies" and many others published by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).


Special Notes for Aging Professionals

The Division of Aging and Adult Services recommends that housing management and aging service providers coordinate in advance with local Emergency Management and American Red Cross offices to assist older adults before, during and after an emergency.

Do your co-workers and residents or participants know and practice escape routes in your building? Does everyone have access to emergency information and telephone numbers? Is there a buddy system for seniors to check on each other? Where will older adults go if their building or neighborhood is evacuated and who will transport them? How will their special needs be met in emergency shelters?

Don't assume that emergency workers know to check on your residents or are prepared to meet their special needs in a disaster. For example, regular Red Cross shelters are prepared for basic first aid needs only. Contact your county Emergency Management office, local or area American Red Cross chapter, or Area Agency on Aging. These agencies can assist the older adults you serve and your property or agency in developing an emergency plan. Let them know if your property has a high concentration of older adults. Ask if the county's emergency plan addresses special needs, or if there is an emergency special needs registry for citizens. Make them aware if your agency or property could be a resource to assist in an emergency with meals, vans, potential shelter space, or staff and volunteers skilled in working with older adults. You might suggest a specific role for your organization to be written into the county's emergency plan. Please don't wait until disaster strikes to establish a relationship with these key agencies.

Some publications available may be downloaded or obtained from your local or area American Red Cross chapter including: Disaster Preparedness for Seniors by Seniors;" "Preparing for Emergencies: A Checklist for People with Mobility Problems," and many others. Contact your county Emergency Management office for free publications including: "Hurricane Awareness-Action Guidelines for Senior Citizens;" Emergency Food and Water Supplies" and many others published by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

A video for senior groups entitled, "Are You Ready," is available for loan from your Area Agency on Aging. It is one of a set of disaster preparedness videos provided by the state of Florida Department of Elder Affairs, based on lessons learned from Hurricane Andrew.

 

Last updated June 3, 2014

 

 

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FEMA
(Federal Emergency Management Agency)