Tips on How to Prepare for Disasters for Seniors

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Written by Bernie Carr

Not too long ago, my Dad, who is in his 80s, had a power outage at his home during a storm. He’s always been concerned about being prepared for emergencies so he does have power outage supplies. But being elderly, it would take him a while to get to the emergency kit, especially in the dark. Fortunately, my brother was with him when the power outage occurred and he helped gather up the flashlights. Being elderly, it normally would have take him a while to get to the emergency kit. The power outage lasted for a couple of hours. This got me thinking about prepping needs for seniors.

The basics

Seniors need the same basic emergency supplies – water, food, lighting, first aid, communications, and defense, but there are special concerns. If there are dietary restrictions, try to include special food needs when stocking up your emergency pantry.

Keep supplies within easy reach

During the power outage, my Dad was worried about having to find the power outage supplies. While he is able to walk unassisted, he does walk slower than before, so it takes longer to find things. Walking around in the dark can be a hazard – falls can be a big issue. You need to make sure your supplies are easy to locate and within easy reach.


One of my aunts just had hip replacement surgery and it took her a long time to walk without having to use a walker. Mobility can be a challenge for seniors, as many have chronic conditions or injuries that flare up every now and then. If you or someone in your family relies on mobility equipment such as electric wheelchairs or scooters, make sure you have various ways to power them, or manual backups such as walkers or canes.

Medical equipment

Many seniors require medical equipment that require electricity. An extended power outage would be life threatening without backups.

If you rely on an electric powered oxygen concentrator, you need to make sure you have backup oxygen tanks for your use in case the power goes out. Most insurance companies do cover several tanks at a time, just request a delivery before you completely run out.

You also need to let the power company know that you or someone in your household relies on electricity to power your medical devices.

Backup power

Depending on your power needs, consider backup power such as a generator or portable power station. Generators do need setting up in advance well before you need it.


You wouldn’t want to run out of your prescriptions in the middle of a disaster. It would be difficult to get to a store when there is a storm outside; and the pharmacy will likely close if there is a severe weather emergency. Plan ahead by ordering refills ahead of time. Many insurance companies provide mail order prescription services that fill prescriptions three months at a time. Ask your doctor for additional refills during every appointment. Most doctors are willing to provide patients with additional refill prescriptions unless the drugs are restricted such as narcotics or pain management drugs.


We’ve all heard frequent news reports about seniors getting targeted by criminals. One recent example was the couple in central Pennsylvania – a naked man invaded their home and assaulted the man, then the woman. Fortunately, the homeowner was able to reach the gun and shoot the intruder who died at the scene. The wife had to be air-lifted to the hospital due to her injuries.

Security is a big concern for seniors.

  • Consider having an alarm system to deter would be burglars.
  • A dog is a good deterrent as well, since criminals prefer to avoid homes when a dog is around. Of course, if you have a dog, you’ll also need emergency supplies for your pet.
  • Make sure all your doors and windows are always locked. Ensure you have sturdy locks.
  • Avoid opening your door when a stranger knocks. Speak behind the door and find out who it is first.
  • Pay attention to any warning signs your home is being targeted.
  • If you decide to be armed, whether it’s pepper spray, Taser or firearm, know how to use your weapon.


Communication is key in case an emergency occurs. To ensure you are able to get in touch with loved ones, have backup methods to communicate. You should have portable power banks for your mobile phone so you are able to charge your phone even if the power is out. Even if calls cannot go through, texts may still be working. A landline is also a good alternate, in case cell phone towers are down.

Get to know your neighbors – you often find out if there are any threats in your neighborhood, and you may have to rely on each other in the event of a disaster.

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Bernie Carr is the founder of Apartment Prepper. She has written several books including the best-selling Prepper’s Pocket Guide, Jake and Miller’s Big Adventure, The Penny-Pinching Prepper and How to Prepare for Most Emergencies on a $50 a Month Budget. Bernie’s latest e-book, FRUGAL DIY has just been released on Amazon. Her work appears in sites such as the Allstate Blog and, as well as print magazines such as Backwoods Survival Guide and Prepper Survival Guide. She has been featured in national publications such as Fox Business and Popular Mechanics. Learn more about Bernie here.

Image by coombesy from Pixabay

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  1. Great article, Bernie. And very timely. On the lighting issue, Eveready, Rayovac, Dorcy, and Ozark Trail all make flashlights that run on one “D” cell battery. The Eveready is one that will run 160 hours on one “D” cell (and there’s only 168 hours in a week — 7 x 24 = 168). That’s less than a penny per hour. Cheaper than candles. With zero fire hazard. And it stays lit in the wind. My book (entitled “The New 2000-Hour Flashlight”) is on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback format. Five pages (out of 106) are devoted to one-battery flashlights. So there’s a 101 pages of other lighting stuff in there. Maybe your Dad should have one (a flashlight, that is, not a book LOL) in every room if not every drawer in every room.

    1. Hi Ron, Yes, that is a great tip about using flashlights that run on one D cell battery. Also better than candles or lanterns that may pose a fire hazard. I think my Dad does need a flashlight everywhere in the house, including the bathroom. I should check on that. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Most land lines are now on fiber/voip. Hard Copper is going away. Land lines now require power. Cordless house phones need power too. Most providers give you a battery box for the house telephone modem. BUT you have to unplug the power supply and connect the battery box. Those batteries are probably dead and leaking! 🙁
    Consider a small computer uninterruptible power supply (UPS) or check and rotate batteries.
    AND the elders need to know AND remember how to switch to batteries.

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