Prepare older people

Globally, the proportion of older people is growing faster than any other age group. While it is important to observe that the older population as a whole is neither helpless nor dependent, during an emergency, this group is more vulnerable in emergency situations. Children, disabled people and those with chronic diseases also share health and safety issues with their elders.

Older people living by themselves might not truly understand the situation because of failing eyesight or hearing or choose to believe they won't be affected, because they have survived previous events during their lifetime. You can begin conversation with your older neighbours by asking about local hazards they have experienced, then lead them to think about what additional assistance they might need to prepare for an event, or evacuate in need be. Ask if they need special arrangements to receive warnings.

Build a personal support network of people who agree to check in on elderly family members in an emergency and ensure their ability to give assistance if needed. According to the American Red Cross these are the things to discuss with this network:

  • Make arrangements, prior to an emergency, for your support network to immediately check on you after a disaster and, if needed, offer assistance.
  • Exchange important keys. 
  • Show where you keep emergency supplies. 
  • Share copies of your relevant emergency documents, evacuation plans and emergency health information card.
  • Agree and practice a communications system regarding how to contact each other in an emergency.  Do not count on the telephones working.


You and your personal support network should always notify each other when you are going out of town and when you will return.  

Your support group might need to access your house during in an emergency, either to help you to prepare or to check on your place while you're away. So provide people in your support group with a spare house key so that they can enter in an emergency. If they are unable to contact you by phone, they might visit to check you are all right and will need access if you don't answer the door.

Include your support group when you prepare your Emergency Plan, so that everyone understands and feels included in the process. Provide each member of your support group with a copy, so that people know what you plan to do and where your plan to go in an emergency. Your plan also explains how to stay in touch and how to contact emergency services.

Show your support group where you store your Emergency Kit and what you've included, in case they have additional suggestions about what you should include. Do you take essential medication? Make sure you make a list for your emergency kit and tell you support group about the essential medication you must take and the proper dosage. Keep a copy of you pharmacy scripts in your emergency kit.

List your support group contacts on your Emergency Plan and discuss with them how you plan to keep in touch. Tell your support group about your nearby contact and out-of-town contact in case you can't contact each other. Understand that during an emergency, many more people are trying to use their mobile phones and landlines to contact family and friends. The increased calling volume may create network congestion, so keep calls to a minimum. Learn how to use SMS messaging to inform your support group about your situation at home or wherever you happen to be.

Limit non-urgent calls. If you have Call Forwarding on your home number, forward your home number to your wireless number in the event of an evacuation; so you get calls from your landline phone. If you are unsuccessful in getting through on your mobile and landline phone, try sending a text messaging (SMS) or email.

If you are heading out of town and you have a mobile phone and Call Forwarding on your home number, forward your home number to your mobile, so that you still receive calls to your landline phone. You'll avoid unnecessary confusion and worry if you keep your support group informed, at all times, of you are in hospital or out of town. Nominate one person as your central contact so that he or she can pass the message on.

During an emergency, you might become isolated by floodwaters, so keep a seven-day supply of essential medication at all times. Keep copies of your essential pharmacy scripts in your Emergency Kit along with the correct dosage. If you don't have a script, in an emergency any pharmacy can provide you with a three-day supply of medication, but you'll need to know the correct name and dosage. Also, if you cannot pay for the medication, in an emergency pharmacists can get reimbursement for those goods, from the Department of Health and Ageing.