National Preparedness Month: Develop a Plan

Published on September 18, 2023


Week Three: Develop a Plan

When creating disaster plans, older adults should consider what disasters would call for an evacuation versus sheltering in place and prepare for both. They should also ask themselves - How would they evacuate if an accessible vehicle is not available? Does their county maintain a registry of those who need special assistance during an evacuation? Does their utility company keep a list and map of the locations of power-dependent customers in case of an emergency? Are their benefits deposited electronically or do they come in the mail?

Examples of plans can be found at or visit our page on planning for people with disabilities.

Planning Recommendations

  • Create a support network of family, friends and others who can assist you during an emergency. Make an emergency plan and practice it with them.
  • Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to be the "family contact" in case your family is separated during a flood. Make sure everyone in your family knows the name, address, and phone number of this contact person.
  • Plan how you will communicate if you have a communications need.
  • Plan for food, water, and essentials for you and pets or service animals.
  • Plan for your transportation if you need help evacuating.
  • Include items that meet your individual needs, such as medicines, medical supplies, batteries and chargers, in your emergency supply kit.
  • Plan how you will have your assistive devices with you during an evacuation.
  • Make copies of Medicaid, Medicare, and other insurance cards.
  • Make sure at least one person in your support network has an extra key to your home, knows where you keep your emergency supplies, and knows how to use lifesaving equipment or administer medicine.
  • If you undergo routine treatments administered by a clinic or hospital, find out their emergency plans and work with them to identify back-up service providers.
  • Don’t forget your pets or service animals. Not all shelters accept pets, so plan for alternatives. Consider asking loved one or friends outside your immediate area if they can help with your animals.

Get Your Benefits Electronically

A disaster can disrupt mail service for days or even weeks. If you depend on Social Security or other regular benefits, switching to electronic payments is a simple, important way to protect yourself financially before disaster strikes. It also eliminates the risk of stolen checks. The U.S. Department of the Treasury recommends two safer ways to get federal benefits:

  • Direct deposit to a checking or savings account. If you get federal benefits you can sign up by calling 800-333-1795 or sign up online.
  • The Direct Express® prepaid debit card is designed as a safe and easy alternative to paper.

About National Preparedness Month