September is National Preparedness Month, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced that it is partnering with the American Red Cross, AARP, the National Organization on Disability (NOD) and the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) to ensure that older adults and those with disabilities are prepared for all emergencies.
Homeland Security Under Secretary for Preparedness George Foresman attended an event at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 6, 2006, to announce that DHS is partnering with the American Red Cross, AARP, the National Organization on Disability and the National Fire Protection Agency to ensure that older adults and those with disabilities are prepared for all types of emergencies. (Photo Credit: Leigh-Anne Dennison/American Red Cross)
The announcement was made earlier this month at an event held at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, D.C. Representatives from these organizations presented new preparedness materials highlighting key preparedness steps especially for elderly and people with disabilities.
Through the department’s Ready Campaign, DHS encourages the public to build an emergency supplies kit, make an emergency plan and get informed of the types of emergencies that can happen.
“National Preparedness Month, the anniversaries of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and last year’s devastating hurricanes serve as serious reminders that emergency preparedness is important for all citizens, especially older Americans and people with disabilities,” said Homeland Security Under Secretary for Preparedness George Foresman.
The goal of the DHS Ready Campaign is to redefine how the U.S. prepares for disaster and to raise awareness of the importance of preparedness. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that more than 84 millions Americans are over the age of 50 and 54 million men, women and children in America have disabilities. The Ready Campaign, AARP, Red Cross and NOD have developed two new brochures specifically highlighting the key preparedness steps for seniors and people with disabilities.
Last year’s hurricane season demonstrated that seniors may have different needs that must be accommodated. According to AARP, roughly 71 percent of Hurricane Katrina Hurricane Katrina were older than 60 and 47 percent were over the age of 75. The new preparedness brochures, written especially for older adults and those with disabilities, call attention to the importance of adding medications, medical records, glasses, hearing aids and other special medical equipment to basic emergency supplies kits.
“All seniors should take charge of themselves and practice self assertiveness when letting others know their needs should an emergency occur," said Red Cross Senior Vice President Joe Becker. (Photo Credit: Leigh-Anne Dennison/American Red Cross)
Joe Becker, Senior Vice President, Preparedness and Response for the American Red Cross, encouraged all seniors to take a self assessment of their abilities.
“It’s important for older Americans to know what they can and cannot do in an emergency so they know what kind of help to ask for," said Becker. "All seniors should take charge of themselves and practice self assertiveness when letting others know their needs should an emergency occur."
Also in attendance was John Burger, Battalion Fire Chief of the District of Columbia Fire & EMS. Burger, who is currently assigned to the Fire Protection Division, reviewed appropriate items to include in an emergency supplies kit.
In the event of an emergency, it may be necessary to evacuate at any time. Take the time to prepare now and build a kit with essentials that can be easily transported at a moment’s notice. You can build your own or buy and customize a kit online at the Redcross.org store.
When building a kit, the Red Cross recommends starting with these items:
- A minimum three-day supply of nonperishable food and manual can opener
- A minimum three-day supply of water (one gallon of water per person, per day)
- Portable, battery-powered radio or television and extra batteries
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit and manual
- Sanitation and hygiene items such as hand sanitizer, moist towelettes and toilet paper
- Special needs items such as prescription medications, eye glasses, contact lens solution and hearing aid batteries
- Photocopies of identification, credit cards, prescriptions and important documents in a sealed, waterproof container such as a freezer bag
- Cash and coins
- Pet supplies if you have a pet or service animal
- Appropriate clothing and blankets for your climate
Battalion Fire Chief for the D.C. Fire Department & EMS John Burger spoke to the crowd about what items should go in an emergency kit, including recommendations specifically for older adults and people with disabilities. (Photo Credit: Leigh-Anne Dennison/American Red Cross)
Take time out before disaster strikes to build a kit, make your plan and get informed. It is easy to be prepared for everything from power outages and home fires to hurricanes and winter storms if you start now. National Preparedness Month reminds us that preparedness information is important for everyone, not just seniors and those with disabilities.
For additional items and great preparedness information, visit www.redcross.org or contact your local chapter today.
The American Red Cross has helped people mobilize to help their neighbors for 125 years. Last year, victims of a record 72,883 disasters, most of them fires, turned to the nearly 1 million volunteers and 35,000 employees of the Red Cross for help and hope. Through more than 800 locally supported chapters, more than 15 million people each year gain the skills they need to prepare for and respond to emergencies in their homes, communities and world. Almost 4 million people give blood—the gift of life—through the Red Cross, making it the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. The Red Cross helps thousands of U.S. service members separated from their families by military duty stay connected. As part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, a global network of more than 180 national societies, the Red Cross helps restore hope and dignity to the world's most vulnerable people. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies on donations of time, money, and blood to do its work.