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As Congress and presidential candidates trade accusations over immigration reform, advocates and experts urge caution in spreading misinformation; Alabama takes new action IVF policy following controversial court decision; and central states urge caution with wildfires brewing.

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Report: Older Adults Lack Emergency Plan for Natural Disasters

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Tuesday, September 5, 2023   

Emergency rescue officials say many older adults in Illinois and elsewhere are not as prepared as they should be to respond to natural and man-made disasters that can strike with very little notice. A new survey from AARP and the University of Chicago found that fewer than 1/3 of adults age 50 and older surveyed have an emergency plan in place for dealing with wildfires, floods, tornadoes, extreme summer heat or severe winter storms.

Tom Kamber, executive director with AARP Older Adults Technology Services, said the first step is to gather vital information.

"Getting signed up for alerts so that you're given accurate information in time," he said. "As we all saw with the recent fires in Hawaii, just a few minutes was the difference between life and death for people to be able to evacuate respond to a crisis."

Statistics show that Illinois is among the top 20 states for life-threatening emergencies, with floods, fires and winter storms occurring most often. Kamber added one of the most important items is a wireless phone with a home or car charger in case the power goes out. Make sure your emergency contacts are entered into your phone, download your bank's smartphone app, and scan copies of important documents that you can access online.

Kamber said people in assisted-living facilities and their family members should talk with administrators about their emergency and evacuation plans, and added it is critical to discuss your needs and develop a trusted support network before a disaster occurs.

"But it also sets up questions around, for example, who is going to be your in-case-of-emergency contact in your phone? If you do have to relocate in an emergency, make sure you have identified a place to stay," he said.

It is also important to have three days' supply of food and water and three weeks' supply of prescription medicines on hand and ready to go. Older adults are frequently more socially isolated, so Kamber said it is especially important for neighbors to look out for each other during a crisis.

"And for many of us as we age, we've got special physical needs," he said. "We have medications, as well as mobility issues that limit us from being able to get away from our house without assistance."

Find an AARP guide to creating an emergency plan and links to resources at AARP.org/disasterprep.


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