Daily Mail

Why it’s not the end of the world for over-65s

They’re the best pre­pared for col­lapse of civil­i­sa­tion

- By Vic­to­ria Allen Science Cor­re­spon­dent

IF you were born be­fore 1955, you may al­ready en­joy free bus travel and eye tests.

But there is an­other, hith­erto un­known, ben­e­fit: You’re more likely to be pre­pared if civil­i­sa­tion col­lapses.

Homes where the head of the house­hold is 65 or older are the most likely to have stock­piled food, wa­ter and other items they will need in an emer­gency, a study has found.

Grow­ing up with par­ents who lived through a world war, or the mem­ory of the threat of nu­clear an­ni­hi­la­tion dur­ing the 1970s and 1980s, may have en­cour­aged pen­sion­ers of to­day to be ready for any­thing.

Those aged 65 and over were more likely than younger peo­ple to have items such as an emer­gency kit, which ex­perts say should con­tain a torch, bat­tery-pow­ered ra­dio, first aid kit and maps of the lo­cal area.

The find­ings come from a study of more than 16,000 US house­holds, where the self-re­ported head of the house­hold was asked which emer­gency ac­tions and items they had in place.

Homes where women were head of the house­hold were less likely to be pre­pared for a dis­as­ter. Wealth­ier and older peo­ple had more re­sources in place, which in­cluded stock­piled food and wa­ter as well as a back-up gen­er­a­tor.

Dr Lu­cila Zam­boni, lead au­thor of the study from the Uni­ver­sity at Al­bany, State Uni­ver­sity of New York, said: ‘Heads of house­holds aged 65 or older had higher odds of hav­ing the items they might need in an emer­gency.

They were how­ever less likely to have ac­tion plans, such as hav­ing agreed upon a meet­ing place or a way to con­tact fam­ily mem­bers if they had to leave their home.

‘As the cur­rent coro­n­avirus pan­demic has shown us, dis­as­er­a­tor, ters are un­pre­dictable, so peo­ple need to be pre­pared in dif­fer­ent ways.’ The study, pub­lished in the jour­nal JAMA Net­work Open, looked at six re­sources that house­holds might need in a dis­as­ter.

These in­cluded a por­ta­ble emer­gency kit, stock­piles of food and wa­ter, an elec­tric gen­cash and a ve­hi­cle to al­low them to evac­u­ate their home. Where the head of a house­hold was 65 or older, that house­hold had al­most 1.5 times the odds of be­ing pre­pared with re­sources.

This meant hav­ing at least three of the six re­sources in place – which was also more likely in wealthy house­holds.

There are three ac­tions which peo­ple need to have in place: a meet­ing point, an al­ter­na­tive form of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and a fi­nan­cial plan if they have to evac­u­ate.

Those who were fully pre­pared had to meet at least half of the nine to­tal cri­te­ria – and mar­ried peo­ple were more likely to do so. The study, which used re­sponses to the Amer­i­can Hous­ing Sur­vey, found fam­i­lies with chil­dren were gen­er­ally less likely to be pre­pared for dis­as­ter.

‘Disas­ters are un­pre­dictable’

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