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Drop, Cover, Hold On!

Are Your Elderly Friends & Family Prepared for the Next “Big One”?

Posted October 17, 2014

Featured Posts | In the News | MOWSF Blog | Senior Issues

Ruarri and Anne

Gigwalk employee Ruarri delivered a disaster preparedness kit to MOWSF senior Anne as part of a work volunteer day. You can read more about the program at the end of this post.

Between the last month’s magnitude-6.0 earthquake in Napa Valley and the 25th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake on October 16, being prepared for the next “big one” has been a recurring topic in the news. Several of MOWSF’s current meal delivery drivers were working on the day of the Loma Prieta. They recall driving driving their vans around piles of rubble and climbing up dark stairwells to make sure their seniors were safe and fed.

“Preparing Makes Sense for Older Americans”

Click to view a PDF of FEMA’s preparedness checklist for Older Americans.

During times of disaster, already vulnerable populations, such as homebound seniors, are particularly at risk. The elderly are more likely to have mobility issues, challenges from diminished hearing or sight, chronic health problems and limited financial resources. They often rely on multiple prescription medications and are more susceptible to illnesses or injuries when the power goes out and they lose light, heat or the use of elevators and medical equipment. Seniors were certainly in the headlines in the aftermath of the September Napa quake.

Two key factors for anyone to be prepared for a disaster are a) creating a plan and b) preparing an emergency kit. For those with older friends and family, making a plan that includes important health and medical information and an emergency contact protocol can be critical no matter how close or far away those people may live.

Here are some resources that could help you and your older friends and family stay safe and prepared in case of an emergency:

General Disaster Preparedness for Seniors

“Disaster Preparedness Tip Sheets for Seniors” (multiple languages)
California Department of Aging

“Preparing Makes Sense for Older Americans” (FEMA)

“Disaster Planning Tips for Older Adults and their Families”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

“5 Disaster Prep Tips for Older Americans”

“Stay in Touch in a Crisis Situation”

“Older Adults and Disaster: Preparedness and Response”
The Geriatric Mental Health Foundation

“Disaster Preparedness for Seniors by Seniors”
The American Red Cross

Earthquake Preparedness Tips

“Tips for Seniors Before an Earthquake”
California Department of Aging

“Tips for the Elderly: Before an Earthquake”
California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services

“Earthquake Safety Checklist”
The American Red Cross

“Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety”
Earthquake Country Alliance


This spring, MOWSF began a program to get disaster preparedness kits to homebound seniors. Volunteers and social workers deliver the kits, along with important tips on preparedness and safety. The kits contain enough food and water to support one person for two days and are nonperishable for a year. To learn more about the program, contact Danie Belfield, Director of Volunteers, (415) 343-1311 or