Disaster Planning & Emergency Preparedness for Seniors

By Michelle Seitzer / Posted on 21 March 2011

The recent natural disasters in Japan – from the earthquake to the tsunami to the current nuclear crisis: we have seen the distressing images on the news; heard the desperate cries for help as YouTube videos roll; read the headlines, blogs, status updates and tweets; donated funds or supplies; hopped a plane with our local search and rescue team or other volunteer/relief organization; contacted family and friends in the region, concerned for their safety, and so much more.

As global spectators, we have watched this tragedy unfold and it deeply saddens us, no matter where we live or whether we know someone who has been directly affected.

On some level, seeing the images and hearing the stories of complete devastation and loss makes us feel powerless to help… what can I do from York, Pennsylvania, to assist families in need, other than sending money or “positive thoughts”?

I found this article from Gimundo.com especially useful, and I encourage you to peruse/share it with others who are wondering the same thing: “What can I do?!” http://gimundo.com/news/article/simple-ways-to-help-victims-of-the-earthquake-in-japan/.

It’s better to do something, no matter how small it may seem, than to do nothing at all.

Another thing that absolutely everyone should do (regardless of their age or geographic location): create, implement, and execute a DISASTER PLAN for your home and your workplace. If you already have one, revisit it, revise it as needed, and keep practicing the emergency evacuation drills outlined in it. If you’re in 100% compliance on that, help someone else, i.e. the family next door or the business down the block, to get things in motion.

Here’s a good place to start: http://www.fema.gov/areyouready/

Emergency preparedness/disaster planning for seniors and those with disabilities is a subject that many are talking about in relevant Linked In groups/other social media platforms. It’s definitely an important conversation to have, considering the many challenges to implementing disaster plans in senior living communities, where you have residents who are oxygen-dependent, bed/wheelchair-bound, immobile, have Alzheimer’s or other cognitive impairments, and a host of other issues that may complicate an already tricky evacuation process. Therefore, it is totally fundamental that all staff, not just the health care professionals, are well-trained/practiced in emergency preparedness procedures.

We’ve seen how well-prepared the people of Japan were (and are) for this type of crisis. Although emergency preparedness is no guarantee against colossal devastation in a natural disaster – it certainly doesn’t make the struggle to rebuild any easier or the losses any less painful – it is tremendously beneficial for moving the beast that is the relief & recovery process forward.

None of us are truly exempt from the ravages of a natural disaster, which can strike at any moment, anywhere in the world. Are you ready?

-Michelle Seitzer

There are 3 Comments about this post

  1. NLM (National Library of Medicine) has a list of government resources to help seniors w/ disaster planning…check out the link here: http://sis.nlm.nih.gov/outreach/specialpopulationsanddisasters.html#a1


    on 21 March 2011 / 3:26 PM

  2. Lee Barker says,

    Disaster Planning and Emergency Preparedness…
    How about a basic listing, in the Lamorinda Patch, of materials to have on hand, and examples of places and/or routes and/or actions for which to plan?


    on 20 April 2011 / 6:22 PM

  3. Great suggestions! I think sharing information like this in local newspapers/online is a fantastic idea. Thanks for sharing your comment and stopping by the blog!


    on 06 May 2011 / 10:07 AM


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