Senior Scene : Emergency Preparedness

Serene Karplus, Nederland.  We commemorated the one-year anniversary of the Cold Springs fire with a presentation by Justin Bukartek of the Boulder Office of Emergency Management at our Wednesday lunch last week. He refreshed for us several of the hundreds of considerations we all face in any disaster and how we can plan ahead to prepare for them.


Having survived fire, flood, high winds, extreme winter storms, a bomb threat, and more just in the past few years, we all know that this is more than just a practice drill. We hear regularly about mitigating tree fuels around our homes, but fire is not our only risk and protection from a big wall of fire is not always within human control. Evacuating quickly and safely – or properly sheltering in place if authorities direct such – may be most important. Being able to respond quickly and efficiently in times of disaster can mean the difference between life and death.


Being aware as early as possible of a disaster needing response is helpful. Registering home phones, work phones, cell phones/texts, and emails with the Emergency Notification System and listing multiple locations where alerts may be needed increases the chance of us hearing news promptly. Sign up with Everbridge at For those without internet access or knowledge, please visit our local library for assistance or ask a friend/neighbor to help with this registration. While CenturyLink landlines are automatically registered for the program, the online registration offers multiple additional options, including adding multiple locations, so we can receive notification if a fire breaks out near our work site, another family members’ home, or other address important to us.


Gather all of this information for registration.


Televisions, internet, and other communication systems may be without power. A battery radio tuned to local stations 850AM, 1190AM or 97.3FM may help. If we are away from the house during the emergency, we may not have access to home, car, computers and other electronics, prepared kits, etc. Ensure that everyone in the family knows where to find one another should phones and cell signals be unavailable with prioritized contact points should any one system be down. Plan ahead which friends or family may provide temporary housing during evacuation so the community emergency shelter remains less clogged and able to serve those with no alternatives.


One of our first concerns is for vulnerable populations with special needs. People with hearing difficulties may not hear alerts or phone messages and those who do not speak fluent English may require special outreach by neighbors to ensure they know what is happening and what is required.


Mobility impaired folks may need assistance not only with getting out, but also with grabbing their emergency supplies for a stay at a shelter or friend’s home. People dependent on medications should rotate stock through their emergency kit so a fresh emergency supply is always ready to go. Parents may need help with their children. Animals may require special assistance, such as having enough transport trailers or halters for leading horses out.


Each person should have a three day supply of food and water, whether sheltering in place or evacuating. Remember that grocery stores and refrigeration may be unavailable due to power outages or may quickly empty at a destination location. Emergency kits should also include copies of difficult-to-replace documents (or fireproof box of the originals) and a list of the items not in the kit that need to be grabbed quickly, with their location in the house indicated, such as medical equipment and prescriptions, glasses, hearing aids, computers, plus emergency items like a battery radio, extra clothes/blankets and sturdy shoes, pet necessities, personal hygiene and water safety items, etc.


More detailed information regarding emergency kit checklists, how multiple notification systems work, and how to prepare for various types of both natural and man-made disasters is available in a comprehensive Emergency Preparedness Guide produced by the Boulder Office of Emergency Management. Download it online at or, when the shipment arrives, pick up a copy at the Nederland Community Center.




All adults are welcome at all Mountain MidLife and Nederland Area Seniors events, attended mostly by folks over age 50. Everyone is invited to all meals at the Nederland Community Center. Please call two days ahead for lunch reservations (a week ahead for dinners and breakfasts if possible) to 303-258-0799. Missed the deadline? Call anyway. Costs listed show first the over-age-60 requested anonymous contribution, then the under-age-60. Please note that all over age 60 are welcome regardless of ability to contribute financially.

Serene Karplus

About the Author: Serene Karplus – is the Executive Director of the Nederland Area Seniors, Inc. (NAS) which assists senior citizens in enhancing their quality of life, enabling them to live a life of respect and honor.  This is accomplished through the facilitation of nutrition, transportation, education, recreation, socialization and outreach programs for all seniors living in the Greater Nederland Area. Serene is a contributor to The Mountain-Ear with her Senior Scene column.