Natural disasters put everyone in their path at risk. Whether it’s a hurricane, a wildfire, a winter storm, or even a heat wave, lives can hang in the balance. But seniors are even more at risk, and the numbers only make this more clear. Here are some eye-opening statistics:
- Adults 75 and older made up half the deaths from Hurricane Katrina
- After a heat wave hit Chicago in 1995, adults 65 or older made up almost two-thirds of fatalities after a 1995 heat wave hit Chicago
- People over 85 are more than four times more likely to die in a wildfire than the total population
What’s even more worrying is that for a number of reasons, including scarce financial resources, isolation, and problems with mobility, it can be hard for seniors to prepare for disasters. For example, a study done in 2012 indicated that close to one in six adults over 50 would need help evacuating their homes in an emergency, and nearly one in 10 would need help from outside the household. Despite such risks, however, a 2014 study found that less than a quarter of seniors have made plans for responding to a natural disaster. And senior service professionals are frequently also unprepared to help the seniors in their communities respond.
It’s essential, then, for seniors and the people who care for them to give a lot of thought to how best to respond to natural disasters. They should, ideally, plan and prepare for them.