Be ready for unexpected emergencies

By Carol Marak - Aging Matters

Editor’s note: Although written for residents of areas prone to hurricanes, much of this is good advice for everyone.

Since peak hurricane season extends from mid-August to the end of October, FEMA suggests older adults stay prepared by having emergency plans in place.

Weather patterns have become increasingly unpredictable, and the hurricane season has just launched and if you live in hurricane risk areas, here’s what you need to do.

Create a support network of family, friends, neighbors, community or faith-based organizations, human service providers and others who can help before and after an emergency or disaster. Discuss your needs with the trusted support network before a catastrophe occurs, since they bring loss of power, cell phone service and dangerous road conditions. Or call the non-emergency phone number for the police department and ask them to do a well-being check.

Check on your neighbors regularly.

Expect that you may not have access to a medical facility or a drugstore during an emergency, so have an adequate supply of needed medications and other supplies that you use regularly – create a “to go” bag.

If you use medical equipment that requires electrical power, ask your doctor or health care provider how to prepare for its use during a power outage.

Be sure to stay informed and sign up for local alerts and warnings.

Learn how to contact your local emergency management agency or office. Visit the RedCross App store to download free smartphone apps that keep you informed.

Figure out an evacuation route in case you need to relocate before, during or after an emergency. Determine how to leave home safely, where to go and what the best route is.

Listen to the radio or TV for advice about whether to evacuate or remain in place. Also, figure out the safest way to shelter in place during an extreme weather event. Practice the evacuation or shelter-in-place drill every six months.

Create a portable emergency supply kit that’s easily carried or rolled. Supply the kit with a three-day supply of medications, nonperishable foods, and water, medical devices, flashlight and batteries, personal hygiene items and chargers for cell phones.

Make copies of important documents and place them in a waterproof bag for safekeeping to include medical insurance card, a photo ID, power of attorney documents, a list of allergies and health conditions, a list of all medications, and contact information for family members, doctors and caregivers. Keep the bag in a place that’s easy to grab it before evacuating.

Before a disaster:

Stay tuned in and informed – sign up for local alerts and warnings. To learn how, contact your local emergency management agency. Before a disaster:

Heed the advice of local officials who will provide evacuation details and shelter locations

Pay attention for up-to-date information before, during and after a disaster

Make sure your battery-powered radio is working and you have extra batteries

By Carol Marak

Aging Matters

Carol Marak is an aging advocate and editor at She holds a Certificate in Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.

Carol Marak is an aging advocate and editor at She holds a Certificate in Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.