September Is National Preparedness Month

The Red Cross encourages everyone, especially older adults, to prepare for emergencies. Courtesy/ARC

American Red Cross News:

ALBUQUERQUE — According to new research from the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council and the American Academy of Nursing, older adults are more vulnerable and experience more casualties after a natural disaster compared to other age groups.

That’s why this National Preparedness Month, the Red Cross, Central and Northern AZ Chapters encourage everyone, especially older adults, to get ready for emergencies.

Being prepared for disasters is essential for people of all ages.

But several factors make older adults more vulnerable during a natural disaster:

  • Older adults may have more chronic conditions and medication concerns;
  • They may be more dependent on assistive devices like walkers and eyeglasses, and support from caregivers; and
  • Living social isolation also can make them more vulnerable.

“We all care deeply about the older adults in our lives and during the pandemic, they are more vulnerable than ever,” Regional CEO Kurt Kroemer said. “Now is the time to ask if they need help assessing their needs and making a plan before an emergency occurs.”

PREPARE IN ADVANCE

To be prepared, older adults should think about what they would do during a disaster before it occurs. Understand how your medical, physical, and cognitive needs may affect your ability to respond if you had to stay in your home for two weeks or more or had to evacuate. Building a support network and identifying helpers such as family, friends, neighbors, caregivers, and care providers who may be able to assist are vital. Older adults should meet with these supporters and decide how to communicate in an emergency.

Additional research findings and resources, including a new Disaster and Emergency Preparedness for Older Adults checklist and booklets are available at redcross.org/olderadults.

DISASTERS DURING A PANDEMIC

Preparing for emergencies is a little different this year, but the three necessary action steps remain the same for everyone: Build a Kit, Make a Plan, and Be Informed. Assemble two kits of emergency supplies (a stay-at-home kit and an evacuation kit) and a one-month supply of prescription medication. Include personal hygiene items, cleaning and disinfectant supplies, and cloth face coverings. Some supplies may be hard to get due to the pandemic, and availability may worsen in a disaster, so start gathering supplies now.

Disasters can force people to leave their homes, even in areas under stay-at-home mandates. By having an emergency plan, your family can react quickly if a disaster strikes.

  • Ask friends or relatives outside your area if you would be able to stay with them.
  • Check and see if they have any COVID-19 symptoms or have people in their homes at higher risk for serious illness. If they do, make other arrangements.
  • Check with hotels, motels, and campgrounds to see if they are open and if pets are allowed.
  • Due to the pandemic, stay current on advice and restrictions from your state and local public health authorities as it may affect your actions, available resources, and shelter facilities.
  • Learn first aid and CPR skills, so you’ll know what to do until emergency help arrives.
  • Download the free Red Cross Emergency App for weather alerts and information on what to do before, during, and after disasters.

Additional resources for preparing during the COVID-19 pandemic is available at redcross.org/coronavirus.

BLOOD, VOLUNTEERS NEEDED

Severe weather during a pandemic can have an even more significant impact on the ability of the Red Cross to collect life-saving blood products due to an increase in canceled blood drives and decrease donor turnout in impacted areas.

The need for blood is constant, and volunteer donors are the only source of blood for those in need. If you are feeling well, please make an appointment today to give by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, or calling 800-RED-CROSS.

As you prepare for disasters; the Red Cross is preparing too. We encourage people to join us by volunteering in their local community. A variety of positions are available, including disaster shelter and health supervisors. Find out more at redcross.org/volunteer.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters feed and provide emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission.

For more information, visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org.

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