In case of emergency, especially an evacuation, it’s essential for seniors and their loved ones to have a communication plan.

According to FEMA, the most common reasons for evacuation are fires and floods. It’s important for seniors to know who to contact in case of disaster. A senior’s loved ones need to know who to contact to check on senior safety too. (OSHA)

When a senior is facing a crisis, like emergency evacuation, they need to know how to act quickly. A disaster communication plan helps seniors and their loved ones know what to do to stay safe and connected in case of emergency.

How a Disaster Communication Plan Works

The first step in any disaster communication plan is to designate an emergency contact who will check in on a senior.

  1.  Senior and emergency contact person check in with each other
  2. Emergency contact coordinates with senior to evacuate them
  3. Loved ones and caregivers can check in with emergency contact about senior’s status
  4. Emergency contact keeps all parties updated
  5. When applicable, emergency contact helps senior return home
  6. Emergency contact verifies with all parties that senior may be contacted directly

Seniors should select a secondary emergency contact in case their primary isn’t available. Loved ones and
caregivers should receive the emergency contact’s phone number, email address, and mailing address as well. (CDC)

The Role of an Emergency Contact

A senior’s emergency contact may be responsible for:
• Keeping up with disaster status in a senior’s home region
• Checking in on senior safety
• Reminding a senior of their emergency plans
• Coordinating the evacuation of a senior
• Connecting with a senior’s loved ones to provide updates
• Helping a senior coordinate their return home
• Navigating health, insurance, and other needs during times of crisis
• Letting loved ones know when a senior can be contacted independently again

Choosing an Emergency Contact

When choosing two emergency contacts, seniors should choose people who are: (Administration for Community Living)
• From another region (long distance calls are easier to make during disasters)
• Able to make important decisions with good judgment
• Connected to the senior’s loved ones
• Entrusted with access to vital information like accounts, insurance provider info,
• Reliable and able to navigate community, healthcare, and emergency service
• Willing to coordinate with a second emergency contact person

(Red Cross)