Disaster PrepWise helps older adults prepare for disruptions

Published on March 18, 2020

A portrait of Prof. Sato Ashida of the Department of Community and Behavioral Health at the University of Iowa College of Public Health.
Sato Ashida

We all need to plan and prepare for responding to an emergency or disaster. The Disaster PrepWise program helps older adults and their families take the time before an emergency to plan so they can remain healthy for survival at home, in a shelter, or elsewhere in the event of an actual emergency.

The program was developed by College of Public Health Associate Professor of Community and Behavioral Health Sato Ashida and CPH students. Prof. Ashida’s group developed the program with funding from the RRF Foundation for Aging.

Disaster PrepWise has created two factsheets for older adults directly addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, one specific to Iowa and one with a national focus.

The factsheets were developed through partnerships between the University of Iowa College of Public Health, Johnson County Homeland Security & Emergency Management Agency, Johnson County Public Health, United Way of East Central Iowa, and Heritage Area Agency on Aging. These agencies, as well as the RRF Foundation for Aging, Cedar Rapids Fire Department, the Heritage Area Agency on Aging, and others are already distributing the factsheets, which were designed by Kate Thrams of the Department of Community and Behavioral Health.

Disaster PrepWise is also developing an online learning module that walks older adults and their families through steps to prepare for any kind of disruptive disaster, including pandemics. Upon completing the program, staff produce a printed and PDF report that older adults and their families can then store in a safe, accessible place for use in disaster situations.

The program isn’t yet ready to produce reports in large proportions. However, the online tool is available in a read-only format that older adults and their families can use to start preparing now for the next disruption.