Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida HELPLINE: 866-413-5337

Emergency Preparedness

While Hurricanes are often at the forefront of our minds, Florida is susceptible to a number of emergencies, including both natural and man-made disasters. The most important thing to remember is to be prepared, not scared! The resources on this page will help you prepare for many different kinds of emergencies disasters.

Disease Prevention

Older adults are often more susceptible to contagious diseases, including the seasonal flu and COVID-19 (Coronavirus). As we age, our immune systems become weaker, and older adults are more likely to develop serious complications. Basic precautions are some of the best measures to prevent the spread of these illnesses.

Influenza

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognizes that people age 65 and older are at high risk of developing serious complications from flu. This is in part because human immune defenses become weaker with increasing age.

The CDC estimates that 70% to 85% of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in seniors. 50% to 70% of flu-related hospitalizations occur among people in this same age group.

Flu Prevention

The best way to avoid getting the seasonal flu is to get your annual flu vaccination. Everyone over the age of six months should get a flu shot every year. Flu shots are especially important for people over the age of 65. The flu vaccine is safe for nearly everyone, but you should always check with your doctor if you’re not sure.

Other steps to prevent the spread of seasonal flu include avoiding contact with people who are sick, washing your hands regularly, and refraining from touching your face, eyes, nose, and mouth.If you are sick, help prevent others around you by staying at home and by covering your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough.

COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Please click here for AAASWFL information and updates related to COVID-19.

In late 2019, a new strain of coronavirus was detected in China. This disease, COVID-19, has now spread to many countries, including the United States. On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern”

Reported illnesses have ranged from very mild (including some with no reported symptoms) to severe, including illness resulting in death. Again, older adults are at a much higher risk of developing serious complications from COVID-19 than the general public. Individuals with chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease are also at a much higher risk.

Hurricanes

Every year, the Florida Department of Elder Affairs publishes its annual Disaster Preparedness Guide for older adults.  This 24-page guide includes helpful information on emergency preparation, resources for older adults, and disaster recovery.
it also includes a disaster supply kit checklist for older adults, emergency phone numbers and much more!
Best of all, it’s online and completely free. View the special Disaster Preparedness issue of Elder Update In English or en Espanol.

Know Your Zone

Do you know your evacuation zone if a disaster strikes? Every community in Florida has an evacuation zone system, typically based on the risk of flooding or other hazardous conditions during a hurricane or tropical event.

To find your evacuation zone, use this mapping service. Enter your address into the box on the top left of the page to find your zone.

Once you know your zone, be prepared to evacuate when your zone is called. If you live in Zones A or B– or live in a mobile home community– you will be among the first to be ordered to evacuate. Do not delay. Zone A and B evacuations are often required for any named storm. Even if you live in Zones C, D, or E, you may still be ordered to evacuate. Be prepared to evacuate if required.

Disaster Assistance for Special Medical Needs

The State of Florida Division of Emergency Management wants to make sure that individuals with special needs are as safe as possible during an emergency.  If you or a family member has a physical, mental, or cognitive impairment or sensory disability, it is important to join the state’s Special Needs Registry.  This registry helps emergency responders and communities prepare for emergencies.

Join the Florida Special Needs Registry (you will be required to include your county and complete a survey)

Special Needs Shelters

In the case of an emergency such as a hurricane, special needs shelters may be activated for vulnerable residents who have no other safe place to go.  Special needs shelters are better able to meet the needs of special medical populations. These populations include many elders and people with disabilities, especially those who require help with activities of daily living.  Special needs shelters do not provide the same level of care found in a hospital and should always be considered a shelter of last resort in an emergency.

Special needs shelter registrations are only valid for one calendar year.  This means you will need to re-register each year.  Registration for special needs shelters will close once our region is within the forecast cone for a hurricane or tropical storm.  In other words, you should register before anyone predicts a disaster.

Each county manages their special needs shelter differently, and has their own requirements for inclusion. Check with your local emergency management department for details, using the links below.

Registering for Special Needs Shelters

Each county operates its own special needs shelter registration.  The links below will direct you to the appropriate site for more information.

Emergency Management Information

In a hurricane or other emergency situation, local offices of emergency management are responsible for assessing community needs and distributing resources and assistance. Other civic organizations (for example, city governments or fire departments) may also provide resources for disaster survivors. Even in a statewide or national emergency, your local offices of emergency management may be your best resource for information and assistance.

The following links may be helpful if you are seeking help during or after an emergency situation:

National and State Resources:

Charlotte County:

Collier County:

DeSoto County:

Glades County:

Hendry County:

Lee County:

Sarasota County: