Electricity Emergency Preparedness for Senior Citizens and Their Caretakers

The Choose Energy Team
By The Choose Energy Team May 14th, 2019

Power outages aren’t very common, but when they do happen in your community, do you know what to do?

Preparing for power outage emergencies won’t be as easy as getting a 72-hour emergency kit ready—especially if you are elderly or are caring for someone who is.

Here are a few things that may help you ensure your safety or of the elderly in your care.

Identify the risks

Knowing what you're up against is a big step toward being prepared.

Was your outage caused by a natural disaster or something else?

What caused the power outage?

  • Natural disaster.
  • Accidents leading to power failure.

What are the immediate risks?

  • Do you live alone?
  • Do you drive or own a car?
  • Do you have any physical, medical, thinking or learning limitations?
    • Smell.
    • Hearing.
    • Mobility.
    • Vision.
    • Communication.
  • Are you reliant upon any medical equipment or assistive technologies?
  • Are you reliant upon a caregiver?

How will the power outage impact you or them in the next 72 hours?

Below you’ll find helpful checklists for when there’s a power outage in your area—covering different scenarios and circumstances.

Create your personal support network ahead of time

  • Get your family, neighbors and friends to assist during a power outage.
  • Get your family, neighbors and friends to assist during a power outage.
  • Call your local emergency management office.
    • Ask what their emergency plans are and how they can assist you.
    • Ask for their list of contacts and of the numbers of nearby health care facilities—keep these numbers close.

Make sure you have a supply of your medications handy.

Gather all medical information and documents for easy access

  • Prepare medical alert tags or bracelets to wear during the emergency.
  • Prepare medical alert tags or bracelets to wear during the emergency.
    • Outline your needs. This is in case you will be moved to a facility so first responders will be informed on the type of help you need.
    • Prepare your medical documents and records so medical personnel will be to see to your medical needs.
    • Prepare a list of your medication.
  • State the best way to communicate with you. This is important especially if you or the person in your care needs to be brought to a facility that is unfamiliar with your needs.

It's helpful to keep batteries on hand in case of outages.

Prep a 72-hour emergency kit

  • Use battery operated flashlights and lanterns. DO NOT USE CANDLES.
  • Unplug all major appliances so they won’t be damaged by the electrical surge when the power is restored.
  • Store your supplies in a container that has wheels.
  • Label your emergency medical supplies with large print text or Braille.
  • Label your equipment and assistive devices, like wheelchairs, canes or walkers, with your name, address and phone numbers.
  • Get ice or frozen cold packs in a small ice chest to store your medicines in.
  • Keep your emergency contact list close and contact them as soon as you can.
  • Pack plenty of batteries and power banks for your assistive devices.
  • Pack plenty of lighting resources like flashlights and lamps (if you have a power generator, even better!).
  • Prepare food and water supplies for up to 72 hours.
  • Ready blankets and extra clothing for warmth.
  • Set aside extra money, as well as the documents you’ll need to secure social security and other regular benefits.
  • Don’t forget to prepare emergency kits for your pets/service animals

Home medical equipment and/or assistive equipment checklist

  • Prepare batteries or alternate sources of power that will sustain you and your medical equipment/assistive technology for the next 72 hours.
  • If you have a hearing disability, prepare a TTY (or Text Telephone), or extra batteries for your assistive devices.
  • Contact your doctor or health care provider and ask for nearby alternatives you can relocate to for help during a power outage.
  • Use portable generators cautiously.
    • Make sure you operate them outdoors, in a well-ventilated area.
    • Do not connect your generator to your home’s electrical system (unless using an approved transfer switch that is compliant with your local electrical code).

Alternate communication options checklist:

  • Prepare cards with phrases, pictures, or pictograms for communication, so your support network or first responders can communicate with you.
  • If you are visually impaired, or care for one:
    • Prepare Braille or text communication cards for communication.
    • Label your emergency supplies with Braille or large print texts

Scheduled treatments/therapeutic care alternatives checklist:

If you or the senior citizen in your care requires regular medical treatments like dialysis, or other procedures, call your clinic or hospital to.

  • Ask about their emergency plans and processes and how they can help you during the crisis.
  • Ask for their back-up medical treatment providers close to your location.

When a storm threatens, make sure you've got a full tank of gasoline.

Mobility and movement checklist

  • Prepare extra battery packs if you or the person in your care uses a power wheelchair.
  • Prepare an extra manual mobility aid like a cane, walker, or manual wheelchair as your alternative for moving around.
  • Store your supplies in one or more easy-to-carry containers, such as a backpack or a duffel bag.
  • Plan and prepare your transportation options, in case you need to move to a clinic or hospital for care and assistance during the emergency.
  • If you have a personal vehicle, keep your gas tank full.

A little planning can go a long way to making sure you or the person in your care is safe and taken care of. Keep to this list and don’t worry: you’ll find that there will always be people to help you during emergencies.

Sources

  • Preparedness information for people with disabilities.American Public Health Association.
  • Disaster Planning For Older AdultsInsurance Information Institute.
  • Emergency Preparedness Tips for Senior CitizensSenior Citizen’s Guide.
  • Disaster Preparedness for Seniors by SeniorsAmerican Red Cross.
  • The Importance of a Personal Support NetworkAmerican Red Cross.
  • Power OutagesReady.gov

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