Many seniors, especially those who live alone, might not realize that there are items they should have in their hurricane emergency kit other than Spam, baked beans and Vienna sausage. June marks the beginning of the six-month-long hurricane season and reminders about being prepared are all over the media.

The messages always emphasize the need for the basics:

◆ drinking water

◆ non-perishable food

◆ toiletries, batteries

◆ your prescription medicines

But those things may not be enough to meet seniors’ needs.

Officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency say to remember four things:

  1. How will you receive alerts and warnings?
  2. What is your shelter plan?
  3. What’s your evacuation route?
  4. And what is your family communication plan?

These four FEMA questions bring to mind specific steps you might not have thought of:

▲ NOAA weather alerts. In addition to a portable AM/FM radio, consider getting one that picks up NOAA weather alerts.

▲ FEMA app. Install the FEMA app on your smartphone and acquaint yourself with its navigation. Additionally, make sure emergency alerts are enabled on your phone.

▲ Phone text. Know how to text on your phone. Even if the voice network goes out, texting may still be an option because it requires less bandwidth and transmits more easily. But that won’t matter if you don’t know how to text!

▲ Support network. Make a list of your support network — people who can help you out in the event of an emergency. Does someone have an extra key to your home?

▲ Hard copy list of contacts. Have your most important contact names and numbers written on real paper and stored in plastic zip-lock bags. Remember — when the power goes out, your phone won’t last long and when it dies, so does any chance of reaching your contacts.

▲ Medical alternatives. If you have medical issues that require regular doctor’s visits, find out what your doctor’s plan is should his office become inaccessible. Where’s the nearest alternative?

▲ Prescription drug supply. For required regular doses of prescription drugs like insulin shots, consult with your doctor for an extra supply.

▲ Pet emergency kit. Prepare an emergency kit just for your pet, including food, bedding and treats. But have you thought to include drinking water? Your pet will get thirsty, too.

▲ Inventory valuable possessions. Make sure you have a complete and up-to-date inventory of your home and your valuable possessions for insurance purposes. Photograph as much as you can for documentation and store the photos or digital output (for example, USB stick or DVD)  in your zip-lock bag.

▲ Automatic Deposit. If you aren’t doing it already, have your benefit checks–pensions, social security, etc.— deposited directly into your bank account. If you have to relocate, your monthly check may have no idea where you’ve gone.

▲ Cash. Got some cash and coins? There’s always a possibility ATMs won’t be working.

Hawai‘i has had its share of disastrous hurricanes and evacuations, but it’s been over 15 years since the last one and it’s important to remember that the threat is always looming.

One very useful website to help you plan for any emergency is There, you will find downloadable documents that will guide you each step of the way as you prepare a plan for your own particular situation.

For further information, go to the websites of FEMA, the American Red Cross, NOAA, and Hawai‘i state and local Civil Defense. Links to these agencies and their respective emergency preparedness information are available below with additional ones on our website, Click on Emergency Preparedness.

Federal Emergency Management Agency
800-621-3362  |

American Red Cross of Hawaii
808-734-2101  |

National Hurricane Center (NOAA)
Hurricane Preparedness

Hawaii Emergency Management Agency

County of Hawai‘i Civil Defense Agency

Maui Emergency Management Agency
808-270-7285  |

C&C of Honolulu Dept. of Emergency Management
808-723-8960  |

County of Kaua‘i Emergency Management Agency

National Weather Service Forecast HI (NOAA)
808-973-5286  |

NOAA watches, warnings and advisories
County of Hawai‘i: 808-935-8555
County of Maui: 866-944-5025
City and County of Honolulu: 808-973-4380
County of Kaua‘i: 808-245-6001