Hurricanes are incredibly destructive, with high winds that can tear structures apart and rainfall and storm surges that can cause significant flooding. People know when they live in a hurricane-prone area, and they will usually have some warning that a hurricane is coming, even though the course of a storm can sometimes curve unpredictably. This means that there is time to prepare – take advantage of that!
Seniors can have particular difficulty withstanding a hurricane. Evacuation can be especially difficult for seniors, many of whom can’t drive, or have mobility issues. Evacuation can be challenging emotionally for seniors as well.
Even though we have more sophisticated methods of predicting storms and their paths than ever before, it is often difficult for seniors to access information about a storm’s approach, and to prepare for it on their own.
Because of this, seniors in hurricane-prone areas should be aware of ways to prepare, and should make specific disaster-preparedness plans with their family members and caregivers.
It is important to understand the difference between an advisory, a watch, and a warning. When dealing with weather events, forecasters use a three-tier system to let people know what risks they face.
- An Advisory simply means that hurricane-related weather might inconvenience people in an area or cause mild disruption.
- A Watch means that there’s a high likelihood that a hurricane will strike in the area in the next two days, and works mostly as a suggestion to stay tuned to emergency bulletins.
- A Warning means that there’s a very high likelihood that a hurricane will strike in the area in the next 36 hours, and means that you should probably prepare to evacuate.
To prepare for hurricane season, the best strategy is to do the most you can to prepare for the worst. This includes:
- Take an inventory of valuables in case the storm damages the home. This can be as simple as taking a video or pictures of your home’s interior using the camera on your phone.
- Make your home as weather-proof as possible, including cleaning out gutters and downspouts, and making sure sump pumps and other anti-flooding measures are in good condition. You may also want to make sure that valuable items and important documents are out of the range of any floodwaters. If seniors are unable to do these activities their your own, be sure that caregivers, family members, or friends help them prepare in this way.
- For your safety and comfort, have a disaster supplies kit packed and ready in one place before a disaster hits. Assemble enough supplies to last for at least three days. Store your supplies in one or more easy-to-carry containers, such as a backpack or duffel bag (seniors might want to consider storing supplies in a container that has wheels so that it is easy to carry)
- Keeping your kit up-to-date is also important. Review the contents at least every six months or as your needs change. Check expiration dates and shift your stored supplies into everyday use before they expire. Replace food, water and batteries, and refresh medications and other perishable items with “first in, first out” practices.
- Be ready to evacuate. Try to make your emergency preparedness kit is as portable as possible, and, if you have a car, always leave it with at least half a tank of gas during hurricane season to facilitate a quick getaway.
- Arrange for someone to check on you during the event of a disaster. Be sure to include any caregivers in your meeting and planning efforts.
- Carry family contact information in your wallet. Choose an out-of-town contact person. After a disaster, it is often easier to make a long-distance call than a local call from a disaster area.
- Keep copies of vital family records and other important documents such as birth and marriage certificates, social security cards, passports, wills, deeds, and financial, insurance and immunizations records in a safe location, like a fire safe or safe-deposit box
- Keep support items like wheelchairs and walkers in a designated place so they can be found quickly. This step is essential for those who have home-health caregivers, particularly for those who are bed bound.
- Label any equipment, such as wheelchairs, canes or walkers, that you would need with your name, address and phone numbers.
Heat In The Aftermath
A hurricane often brings hot, humid weather in its wake, and that can be dangerous if it’s coupled with a long-term power outage, because seniors often have particular difficulty coping with heat. Even if your home is intact and you haven’t been told to evacuate, a power outage could still happen, and might be a good reason to leave the area in order to avoid heat-related health problems.
Help Seniors Be Prepared
In summary, it can be hard for seniors to prepare for disasters on their own. It is essential, then, for seniors and the people who care for them to give a lot of thought to how best to respond to natural disasters. They should, ideally, plan and prepare for them far in advance. One thing that people can do to help is check in to make sure that seniors are aware of any potential threats and to encourage them to take appropriate action.
Meet with your family, friends, and caregivers frequently to explain your concerns and create a support network that can work as a team to prepare, and to respond in the event of a natural disaster.
For a complete guide on disaster-preparedness, we recommend utilizing this booklet from the Red Cross.
Partner with a Trusted In Home Care Provider
Trusted by Florida families for more than 25 years, American In Home Care’s credentialed caregivers can help support the hobbies, pastimes, and activities that our older adult clients enjoy. In addition to helping keep a senior loved one active and engaged, let us assist with light housekeeping, meal planning and preparation, and so much more.
To learn more about our comprehensive home care services, reach out to one of the four
offices conveniently located throughout the state:
- American In-Home Care – Serving North, Central, and West Coast of Florida
- Advocate In-Home Care – Serving Southeast and Southwest Florida
- Douglas In-Home Care – Serving Treasure Coast
- Whitsyms In-Home Care – Serving Southeast and Southwest Florida
Contact ustoday to learn more about how our professional Florida home care services can offer much needed companionship during the pandemic for a senior you love. We look forward to hearing from you!
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