By Mike Moen

Fewer than one-third of the 1,012 older adults in a recent AARP and University of Chicago National Opinion Research Center survey said they had created an emergency plan, which the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) considers vital. Comments from Tom Kamber (CAM-burr), executive director, AARP Older Adults Technology Services

Most older adults are not as prepared as they should be to respond quickly in the event of natural disasters that can strike with little notice. New survey results are prompting reminders for Wisconsin seniors to take action. The findings were issued by A-A-R-P and the University of Chicago. Fewer than one in three adults age 50 and older have created an emergency plan for wildfires, flooding, tornadoes, summer heat domes or winter “bomb cyclones.” Tom Kamber with A-A-R-P says the first step is to ensure having access to vital information.

“Getting signed up for alerts, so that you’re given accurate information in time. As we all saw with the recent fires in Hawaii, just a few minutes was the difference in life and death for people to be able to evacuate or respond to a crisis.”

Kamber recommends having a phone charger for your car, making sure emergency contacts are listed in your smartphone, and creating copies of important documents that you can access online. A-A-R-P offers a template for creating an emergency plan and links to resources at ‘’ And Wisconsin Emergency Management has a list of preparedness tips for seniors on its website.

People in assisted living facilities, and their family members, should talk with administrators about their emergency and evacuation plans. Kamber says it’s critical to discuss your needs with a trusted support network before a disaster occurs.

“But it also sets up questions around, for example, who is going to be your in-case-of-emergency contact in your phone? If you do have to relocate in an emergency, is there somebody who you’ve already identified, where you can go and stay?”

It’s also important to have three days’ supply of food and water, and three weeks’ supply of prescription medicines, on hand and ready to go. Older adults are frequently more socially isolated, so Kamber says it’s especially important for neighbors to look out for each other during a crisis.

“And for many of us as we age, we’ve got special physical needs. We have medications, as well as mobility issues that limit us from being able to get away from our house without assistance.”

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