Survey: Many Older Adults In NC Not Prepared For Floods, Natural Disasters

When it comes to being ready for a major flood or natural disaster, a new AARP North Carolina survey indicates several weaknesses in readiness for older adults in the state.

A survey of 255 AARP members conducted October 1-6, found that over 60 percent did not have a waterproof emergency kit and over 65 percent did not have important documents such as ID cards, health insurance cards, Social Security cards, insurance papers, deeds, wills and car titles in a sealed plastic bag.

AARP North Carolina Director Doug Dickerson said, “These are just two important precautions people can take to better prepare for disasters that will make a big difference in tough situations.”

AARP has been working with FEMA and state partners to get information to older adults that can save lives and the hassles and headaches caused by storm damage. Last week, AARP sent its members a tip sheet to help people prepare for the brunt of the most recent storms.

“Most of these tips can be accomplished quickly and inexpensively. They’re a great way to make unpredictable times easier and safer.  Being well-prepared helps build the resilience people need to survive tough times,” Dickerson added.

An accompanying AARP survey indicated five key actions that seniors in North Carolina can take to prepare for rough weather ahead.

  1. Make a document pouch
    Important documents such as ID cards, health insurance cards, Social Security cards, insurance papers, deeds, wills and car titles need to be easy to grab and safe from any damage when bad weather strikes. Putting copies of important papers in a sealed plastic bag with their emergency supplies is a great idea. AARP NC’s research shows that only one-third of seniors surveyed have taken this step.
  2. Write it down.
    Along with copies of important documents, a simple list of phone numbers and addresses is a great addition to that zippered plastic bag. Having all the important information in print makes communications much easier when stress makes it difficult to remember numbers or addresses. Include family members, doctors, the hospital, your insurance agent, and other important information that might not be at your fingertips if you need to leave home in a hurry.
  3. Learn to turn off power and water.
    Take a few minutes and learn how to turn off the electricity and water supplies to your home. Storm damage and injuries often come from ruptured water lines or electrocution risks in evacuated homes. Homeowners can minimize risk and maximize safety by turning off the power and water. It’s a quick, easy way to minimize risk and stay safe.
  4. Check your mobile phone.
    Most seniors surveyed reported that their mobile phones are fully charged. It’s always a good idea to double-check when bad weather is in the forecast. Infrequently used phones can lose their charge. Keeping a car charger in the glove compartment is an easy, handy backup.
  5. “Give a little whistle.”
    Jiminy Cricket’s famous advice is a great tip for seniors. In the commotion of an emergency, a shout for help can be difficult to hear. With an inexpensive whistle in their emergency supplies, responders will be able to hear and locate people in need much more quickly.

“This past week’s challenging weather in our region is a valuable wake-up call.” Dickerson said.  “I hope it reminds all of our members that it’s wise to prepare long before bad weather arrives.”