Disaster Preparedness and the Older Adult

Disasters can happen any time, anywhere.  Sometimes we can predict them ahead of time, such as an approaching storm or hurricane.  But many times, we can't.  A disaster can be as largescale as a terrorist attack or a major disease outbreak, but can be as localized as a house fire or a power outage. 

Older adults have special needs during disasters, and nurses can help them and their families prepare to survive a disaster.  This includes planning for who will care for them or their pets in an emergency situation, how they will communicate with family or friends, knowing where to get information during an emergency, and having emergency stockpiles of food, drinking water, and medications for both them and their pets. 

The Department of Homeland Security and the American Red Cross have comprehensive websites for helping older adults prepare for disasters.  They offer checklists and sample disater plans that include covering the "little things" that could be easily forgotten.  [Links below].

Another planning agent is an emergency response wheel, created by EAD & Associates, LLC.  [Link below].

Nurses are critical thinkers and patient advocates - two valuable skills in creating and reviewing emergency response plans for health care facilities.  Take a moment to locate and review your facility's plan, and see if there are areas that are missed - including those "little things" such as pet care.  If your facility does not have an emergency plan, advocate for one and be a part of the creation process.  You can also visit ANA's disaster preparedness for more information.  [Link below].