Community Blog

Seven Storm-Preparedness Suggestions for Seniors

By Debbie Humphrey

Aging adults have weathered many a storm over the course of their lives, which has resulted in the thickening of their skin and a strengthening of their resiliency and character.

Thankfully, most of the people I know suffered minimal or no damage from our recent encounter with the outer bands of Tropical Storm Alberto. However, memories of Hurricane Irma that hit our area September 11, 2017, along with the beginning of a new hurricane season, encourage me to discuss the importance of storm-preparedness for seniors.

The elderly often recall the old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” By being proactive and taking precautionary measures, the stress and anxiety that results before, during, and after storms can be significantly reduced or eliminated.

Here are seven suggestions regarding storm-preparedness for seniors:

-A support system that includes family, friends, neighbors, caregivers, or anyone that can assist in emergencies and evacuations, is a vital component to senior safety during storms. Whoever is involved in this support system should be keenly aware of the senior’s physical and mental limitations and be ready, willing and able to help if/when the time comes.

-A physical list of emergency phone numbers for family, friends, neighbors, and caregivers in the support system, as well as contact info for a loved one outside of the disaster area, is highly recommended. This list should be kept in a purse, wallet or waterproof bag, because it will prove very important if there are electrical and cell tower outages. If a nasty storm affects a large area, it could be an extended period of time before utilities and phone service is restored. If a hurricane is in the forecast, make sure cell phones and a replacement battery are fully charged.

-Prepare a “Go Bag” should evacuation become necessary. It needs to contain at least one change of clothes including undergarments; and personal hygiene items, like a comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, denture care kit, hand sanitizer, etc. Additionally, designate a meeting place (maybe a nearby evacuation shelter), so family and friends can easily locate their loved one.

-It is crucial to have an emergency supply of prescription medications, pain relievers, incontinence pads/briefs, catheters, or anything a senior may need if evacuated to a shelter.

-Put together an “in-case-of-emergency case.” Include a gallon of water/person to last at least three days, and more for personal hygiene and around the home; personal hygiene items, i.e. toilet paper, incontinence pads/briefs; non-perishable food that can be consumed without cooking (canned, dried); a manual can opener; eating utensils; medical devices, catheters, diabetes test strips, hearing aid batteries, etc; flashlights with extra batteries and bulbs; a battery-operated radio or TV; plenty of extra batteries; a blanket; a deck of cards or puzzle books for entertainment; maybe, a multi-purpose tool, like a Swiss army knife. Remember: candles are not recommended, should there be the possibility of a natural gas leak!

-Keep all vital documents and records in a safe place, whether it’s a fireproof locked box or a safety deposit box. These would include the senior’s birth certificate, social security card, deed, will, living will, important financial papers, etc. If flooding is a concern, consider sealing these documents in a plastic bag and storing in a closed dishwasher.

-When the threat of severe weather is reported, a senior’s local fire department or law enforcement agency should be notified, especially if the senior has special needs that could require an emergency response team.

The very idea of seniors being alone during a severe storm is unsettling. Call it a professional hazard of my job! Please consider these recommendations and implement them with the special seniors in your life. If you know a senior who is alone with no family or friends around to help, contact me. I am happy to find the perfect, compassionate caregiver to help seniors weather all kinds of storms!

Home Helpers® is honored to have received the Provider of Choice 2017 & 2018 awards from Home Care Pulse, and we proudly serve male and female seniors in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Holiday, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, Hudson and surrounding areas. Home Helpers®…we are Making Life Easier℠ 727.942.2539