Many municipality officials have wisely engaged in continuity of operations planning to determine how their community can most effectively prepare for a natural disaster. During this process though, it is of the utmost importance for officials to understand not only how a municipality can support the community at large, but provide additional assistance to at-risk citizens such as the elderly.
Failing to do so could inflict significant damage on a municipality's elderly population. For example, in 1995, a massive heat wave devastated Chicago's established infrastructure. While many elderly Chicago citizens were able to cope with the heat with the assistance of their neighbors, the communities hit hardest were composed of older individuals who simply withdrew into their homes without the proper resources to deal with the emergency.
Understanding the threat emergency conditions pose to a municipality's elderly population, the Vallejo Times-Herald reports that officials in Vallejo, California, set up an informational event to provide senior citizens with tips for disaster preparation.
Coordinated by members of the Vallejo fire department, the session provided seniors with suggestions on tools and supplies to have in their emergency preparedness kits. The firefighters also gave the seniors "homework," asking them to find emergency exit routes and assess structural vulnerabilities in their homes.
"If we can relieve some of your stress, that relieves our stress," said Vallejo Fire Captain Eric Strom to the roughly 50 seniors in attendance.
For officials in other communities looking to undertake similar education initiatives for at-risk members of the community, it would be wise to send municipality representatives to attend the Continuity Insights Management Conference 2012 in Scottsdale, Arizona, taking place from April 16 to 18. At this event, certified disaster preparedness consultants can provide officials with valuable information they can use to secure the well-being of all a municipality's citizens in the event that a natural disaster occurs.