Wildfires Highlight Need for Emergency Preparedness Among People with Disabilities and Older Adults


Tragedy struck this September in rural Lake County, California, when wildfires tore through neighborhoods, destroying property and taking lives. In this community, where nearly 20% of the residents are over 65, three older persons were killed when their mobility issues kept them from evacuating to safety.

According to articles in the Los Angelels Times, the first victim was a 72-year-old woman with multiple sclerosis who “had no vehicle and could not have driven one,” and who could not walk very well even in her own home. According to the piece, one of the woman’s personal care attendants tried desperately to get authorities to rescue her, but to no avail.

Two other older men were also found dead in their homes. The county Office of Adult Services stated that the fires “moved too quickly for us to perform outreach as we normally do,” according to another article in the Times.

DirectCourse College of Personal Assistance and Caregiving has a course designed to help caregivers, the people they support, as well as older adults and people with disabilities themselves to prepare to face these types of emergencies. Being Prepared for an Emergency also helps them advocate for older adults and people with disabilities who may need further assistance in the face of an emergency. See details of this course in our eCatalog.

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