By Bettina Experton MD, MPH, Humetrix President & CEO
On March 10, an earthquake magnitude 6.9 hit Northern California. Located 50 miles offshore, there were no reported injuries but it was felt by many up and down the coast and serves as a reminder that at any time the big one can hit. Are we prepared for such a major event? The answer is definitely NO and this lack of preparedness is even more concerning among older adults who are even more likely to suffer health and safety issues during a natural disaster.
Three quarters of those who perished in Hurricane Katrina in 2005 were aged 60 years or older. In a survey published this month by the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH Vol 104, No 3, March 2014) only 34% of the surveyed adults over the age of 50 have an emergency preparedness plan.
With continuing serious climatic events and the ongoing geological risk everyone should prepare themselves and their loved ones by having an evacuation plan, enough supplies for at least 72 hours and having copies of their vital records - starting with medical records.
Your smart phone or tablet are the best record keeper of your health data so that it can be retrieved even if no Internet connection can be established - often the case in a disaster scenario. Making sure that your elderly parents have their medical history and a list of medications with them at all times can be a life saver.
Apps like our iBlueButton allows you to keep and share Medicare records on your smartphone. And using mobile apps like ICEBlueButton to immediately share vital health information or automatically alert your loved ones in an emergency should be part of your family’s emergency preparedness plan.