Next Time the Power Goes Out, Make Sure Your Loved One is Prepared

With severe weather becoming the norm, we’re hearing far too many stories about elders trapped at home without power, enough food or a way to get to safety during a major storm. Don’t let this be the scenario for your loved one. Take the time now to plan together what to do in case of a major natural emergency.

Here are some factors to consider as you develop your plan:

Supplies for Daily Survival

At her home, you want to have on hand all the basics:

  • Three-day supply of non-perishable food and bottled water
  • Medications (be sure they haven’t expired)
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Disposable wipes, garbage bags and ties for personal hygiene if plumbing fails
  • Dust mask to filter contaminated air
  • Duct tape
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and extra batteries
  • Extra food and supplies for a beloved pet
  • A current health insurance card and up-to-date list of all prescriptions, doctors and emergency contacts
  • Copies of significant legal documents, such as wills, power of attorney, credit cards and bank information, Social Security number and Medicaid card, in a waterproof container
  • Cell phone and charger, if she uses one; charge in advance of an approaching storm
  • Cash for emergency purchases

Create a lighter weight, portable emergency kit of the essentials, plus two changes of clothes, sleepwear and a blanket in case she needs to evacuate.

Emergency Support Network

Whether you live nearby or out-of-town, be sure your loved one has a network of friends and other family to call, if she can’t reach you.

Contact neighbors whom she trusts, and ask them to check in on her in case of a major storm or power outage. Make sure at least one trusted neighbor has a key to her home and can find the fuse box, turn off the main water supply and knows where you have placed all emergency supplies and contact information. Make sure these contacts know how to reach you!

If she uses a cell phone, program in “ICE” (in case of emergency) numbers. Teach her to text message; even if phone service is disrupted, texts may still get through.

Train emergency contacts how to use any special equipment, such as wheelchairs, oxygen, hearing aides and batteries.

If you loved one has home care assistance, find out the agency’s plans about providing care during a storm or other emergency.

Make sure your loved one wears an identifying bracelet if she is disabled or has another significant medical condition.

Register your loved one with local government officials to receive special assistance in case of disaster. Check the FEMA website,, for resources in your area.

You’ll find more helpful advice in this pamphlet from FEMA, Prepare for Emergencies Now: Information for Older Americans.

We all hope never to have to confront a natural disaster. But it’s always best to be well-prepared for the unexpected, rather than risk the very real dangers of severe weather. Especially when your elder loved one could be at risk, you’ll both sleep better knowing you’ve done your best to plan for a major emergency.

President of Deborah Fins Associates, PC, since 1995, Deborah Liss Fins is a licensed independent clinical social worker and certified geriatric care manager. Drawing on more than 30 years of professional experience in geriatric care management, DFA offers comprehensive assessments and planning, guidance in selecting appropriate care, help identifying resources for financial support and professional consulting. Please contact us to set up a complimentary initial telephone consultation.

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