As time goes by, we realize that natural and manmade disasters are inevitable, and we become more and more vulnerable each day. Unfortunately, the seniors in our community are the most affected given their situation and physical condition. The following emergency preparedness tactics should help senior citizens everywhere.
When you are prepping for a disaster, you need to have the appropriate mindset and physical ability if you want to succeed. Seniors may have fewer practical options available compared to others from their community. They may have a physical disability, they may live alone or they simply lack the resources they used to have when they were still in the workforce.
Even though these limitations can hinder your prepping plans, you must be prepared and ready to face any disaster, regardless your age. Seniors should plan their resources and prepare as best they can before waiting for help to arrive. The following emergency preparedness tactics should make them ready to face any emergency at any time.
Survival tactics for seniors:
Having the right mindset
Your brain is the most important survival tool, and your mindset will help you survive against all odds. Being aware of your surrounding and evaluating what you see is the first step. Based on the information you gather, you can decide and act accordingly. Buying survival gear is recommended, but without the right mindset, it will just take space in your closet or basement.
Survival is also about taking good decisions before disaster strikes. You should make a list of what is most likely to happen in your area and which of those scenarios may force you to evacuate. The list can contain everything from forest fires to flooding and earthquakes. Even pending civil unrest should be on the list since the human factor is the most unpredictable one.
Related reading: Prepper’s Threat Analysis – Establishing Prepping Priorities
Once you make this assessment, it’s time to figure out what will you do if those events occur. Will you go to a public shelter or a friend’s house? Do you have any nearby relatives that can take you in? My father has a set of spare keys to a lake cabin he’s using. Even though the cabin is not his, the owner agreed to let him use it as a bug out location in case needed.
Another possible scenario you have to think about, which is the most probable one for most seniors, is hunkering down. Most of them will not be able to abandon their home or refuse to do so due to practical or emotional reasons. It’s highly understandable, and for most of them, it’s unbearable to leave their life’s work behind.
To prepare for bugging in, seniors must be prepared to face physical, emotional and mental reactions triggered by a disaster. Gather people around you (family, friends, and neighbors) and discuss about potential problems and solutions in a relaxed environment, before disaster strikes. A barbeque party is a good occasion to discuss current events and threats that may affect your neighborhood. Continue to communicate with them during the incident and share news and information as the situation develops.
Seniors should plan for disasters that are likely in their geographical location. They should limit their prepping plans to what is most likely to happen. Evaluate all the pros and cons of hunkering down versus bugging out.
Make a checklist with what you will need to survive during a disaster and stick to it. Do this long before any disaster strikes as you will be able to think logically when you’re relaxed. You will be able to rule out easily the wants versus needs. Seniors have different needs when it comes to survival planning, and even food storage becomes problematic.
The pantry of senior citizens requires diversity as they are more susceptible to food fatigue than others. Not only it will decrease their morale, but it will also lower their energy levels. Another thing related to food storage is accessibility. They need to be able to easily prepare and cook their meals, without wasting time that may not be available.
Medicine should also be on top of the list since most seniors rely on various pills to survive or ease their illnesses. If they take maintenance medications, they should make a stockpile that can last for months. The same goes for sanitation or hygiene, and they should be prepared to stay clean if clean water will someday stop flowing and toilets will stop flushing. Having one or two WaterBOBs can help you collect a good amount of water and have it readily available during a disaster.
Suggested reading: Emergency Water Storage Solutions
Seniors should also be aware of alternative evacuation routes since the main escape routes may not be available at all times. For example, it the main road out of town is flooded, you should be able to use an alternate route without abandoning your vehicle.
Evaluate the abilities of those close to you and assign roles for each of them. Figure out which family member can drive a car and who can walk a long distance while carrying a BOB. Do you have money stashed away that can be used to pay for travel? Who can accompany you? Who can assist and help you in case needed?
Fortify your castle
Seniors who decide to hunker down should make sure they have enough food, water, medications and other supplies for at least one week. It is also important to have at least one way of communicating with others (telephone, cell phone, ham radio, etc.), to keep them updated on your situation.
Consider also about alternative energy options in case gas and electricity utilities are destroyed or shut down. To reduce the risk of fire, use battery operated lighting inside. Using an open flame inside can also be dangerous, and you should remove any combustible materials from the area before doing so. Propane gas stoves or charcoal barbeques from the backyard should be kept as a last resort and used only for emergencies.
Think also about how you can fortify your home and make it undesirable for looters. Think about protecting your windows and doors and create a defense perimeter around your home. If you plan to get a gun for home-defense, try it before you buy it. Get something that you can use easily without a powerful recoil.
There’s safety in numbers, and this is especially true for seniors. Most of them have a strong connection with their neighbors, and they take care of each other during harsh times. You should always have someone to rely on nearby, especially if you live in a gated community or small neighborhood.
You should identify people and local services long before a crisis hits. The Red Cross and the Salvation Army can provide assistance in an emergency. Contact them and ask to see local government plans for emergency preparedness in your area. It will help you figure out what your options are in case your prepping plans fail. You can also make a list with all public building which are designed to operate as emergency shelters when disaster strikes. By doing so, you will be able to identify those that can be reached; depending on how the disaster develops.
Create a contact list with all local neighbors, friends, and relatives and establish a plan for operating and communicating before, but also during a disaster. Even a simple thing like checking on your neighbors once the weather alert is issued can save lives.
You can notify all your neighbors and pull resources together. Who owns a truck or other escape vehicle such as boat? Who has trouble walking and needs carrying? Does anyone have medical training? Who is at home at all times?
Most seniors have grandchildren and young adults who are part of their lives and spend a great deal of time with them. These relatives can be included in the prepping plans and can have an active role in keeping seniors busy and prepared. Tasks such as organizing a pantry, or buying supplies and even listening for local tornado warnings, can become a team effort.
We can learn a lot from our elders, but that’s not just a one-way street. Seniors can also learn a great deal of things from younger family members. From learning how to operate new apps or gadgets designed for survival to staying up to date with how others prepare. Young people have access to a bigger flux of information, and they can filter it much faster compared to adults. I’ve shown my father a lot of things he was not aware of and I’ve bought many items for him after finding out about them from different communication channels.
I know from experience that old-timers are used to do things on their own without asking for help and with limited resources. I can understand and respect that since I’m aware they come from a different, better generation. Their generation had to work hard to achieve a certain comfort and stability, and they didn’t have all the facilities we have today. However, there’s no shame in asking for help. You should be able to talk with those close to you and ask for their aid when things become overwhelming.
A last word
According to current statistics, there are a lot of seniors living in the U.S. More than 25 percent of the population is 55 years or older, while 14 percent are 65 old. Currently, 6 percent of the population is 75 or older. While these numbers may not seem much at first, the actual number of seniors grows significantly if you realize that the U.S. has a population of 323 million. Most seniors out there may not be as capable of saving themselves from disaster, as younger, more physically able citizens, but with proper planning, senior citizens can increase their chances of survival.