Jefferson County focuses on emergency preparedness for older adults

Jo Davis
Posted 9/8/23

Preparing for an emergency is a bit different for independent older adults.

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Jefferson County focuses on emergency preparedness for older adults


Preparing for an emergency is a bit different for independent older adults.

Essential actions in emergency planning like packing an emergency kit and deciding to evacuate or shelter in place come with special considerations.

To help Jefferson County’s older residents, the county commissioners have proclaimed September as Emergency Preparedness Month. The theme is “Preparing Older Adults.”

“This year’s theme is ‘Preparing for Older Adults,’ and pre-planning is the best way to improve community resiliency from disaster,” the proclamation reads.

Jefferson County Public Health is one agency that provides resources, information and more to help the community prepare this month.  

“At JCPH, a large part of our work is making sure we are preparing our entire community for emergency events,” said Anjanette Hawkins, Emergency Preparedness and Response Coordinator at JCPH. “Older adults face even greater risks and challenges when it comes to preparing for emergencies, and as pillars of our community, we owe it to them to champion their wellbeing.”

One of the sites that Jeffco Public Health recommends is The site is an official website of the US Department of Homeland Security. It focuses on emergency preparedness and has a special page for older adults. “As an older adult, you may have specific needs after a disaster,” reads. “Use the information on this page to assess your needs and take simple, low-cost steps that help you get better prepared.”

This information urges families to add things to the emergency prep kit that would help an independent older adult after a disaster. This includes:

  • Copies of medical insurance information;
  • Extra medical supplies, especially batteries, glasses, oxygen, etc;
  • Hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes for medical use; and
  • A contact list of medical transport services and caregivers, including backup services in case there are issues reaching the home.

Another resource, the older adult-targeted magazine AARP, offers an Operation Emergency Prepare guide. It’s interactive and allows families and friends of older adults a way to create an emergency preparedness plan. There are worksheets, checklists and other tools to help capture what an older adult would need after a disaster. There are also actionable steps to get everyone moving toward implementing and practicing the plan.

FEMA and offer a pamphlet “Prepare for Emergencies Now: Information for Older Americans” that’s full of tips, ideas and considerations while creating the emergency plan. They urge older adults to plan by:

  • Adding a whistle to the emergency preparedness kit as an extra measure for signaling for help;
  • Stockpiling a week of medications and medical supplies, or as many as the pharmacist will allow;
  • Keeping tools to create a barrier to the dangerous air if the older adult cannot evacuate. These items include tape, plastic sheets (for painting and covering furniture), masks and more; and 
  • Securing and/or moving any items that could move or fall into the walkways. These can impede an emergency evacuation for older adults with disabilities or illnesses that impair mobility.

There are many other special considerations that must be made when thinking about securing older adults in the family and community.

“As an older adult, you may have specific needs after a disaster,” read the Jeffco Public Health announcement on National Emergency Preparedness Month. “This is especially true for older adults who live independently, have low income, have disabilities, have chronic health issues or live in rural areas.”

To help families, Jeffco Public Health is hosting an emergency preparedness education and walk-in clinic event from 8 a.m. to noon Sept. 20. Check the JCPH website for more information and a location when it’s determined. That information will also be included in the Jeffco Transcript newsletter. Signup is free, do so today.

jefferson county commissioners, jeffco public health, emergency preparedness, older adults


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