It appears the majority of our Clearwater area and its residents fared better than expected following the overnight appearance of Tropical Storm/Hurricane Elsa, with little damage reported and few injuries. As I write this blog, the threat of strong wind and rain has diminished and the remaining bands of Elsa are headed up the East coast. We’ve successfully weathered another storm which got me thinking about what to do in the aftermath.
I have researched information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Weather Service and others to compile a list of important dos & don’ts for seniors following severe storms.
- Do stay informed. Keep watching or listening to local news, or tune into NOAA weather radio to make sure there are no active watches or warnings. Although the thunder may have stopped, there could be flash flooding, downed power lines, heavy wind or other dangers lurking. This is especially true with tropical storms and hurricanes as the eye of the storm may be calm, but outside of the eye wall is where dangerous conditions churn.
- Do communicate with family & loved ones that you are safe. When seniors live alone, family members and friends can become overly concerned, stressed and anxious about their safety and well-being. Be sure to reach out to your loved ones through a phone call, text or email as soon as you and can to ease their minds and calm your soul.
- Do avoid floodwaters. Living on the west coast of Florida, we are accustomed to low-lying areas becoming flooded with heavy rain and torrential downpours. Not only can floodwaters damage your vehicle or possibly sweep it away, “Floodwater can contain many things that may harm health, including germs, dangerous chemicals, human and livestock waste, wild or stray animals, downed power lines, and other contaminants that can make you sick,” says the CDC.
- Do assess property damage. Once you are certain the storms have passed, it’s important to safely assess any property damage. “When walking through storm damage, wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and sturdy shoes. Contact local authorities if you see power lines down, (and) stay out of damaged buildings,” the National Weather Service advises.
- Do not approach downed power lines. This should be self-explanatory. You can get electrocuted if you get too close or come into contact with downed power lines. If you notice electrical lines have been impacted by a severe storm, contact your power company immediately and let the professionals investigate.
- Do use flashlights instead of candles when power is lost. Candles add a nice ambience to a dark room when the power is out, but they also present a fire hazard. Always stay nearby when burning a candle, and consider stocking-up on more batteries and flashlights to use instead. It’s safer that way.
- Do not use electrical devices that have gotten wet. If you can safely turn off the breaker at the main circuit box, do that. Contact an electrician to professionally examine any electrical device that has been compromised by moisture before using it.
- Do not promote carbon monoxide poisoning. “Fuel-burning equipment creates carbon monoxide (CO). This can include equipment like generators, pressure washers, charcoal grills, and camp stoves. You can’t smell or see carbon monoxide, but if it builds up in your home, it can cause sudden illness and death,” explains the CDC. Do not use camp grills, portable grills, charcoal grills, or generators inside your home or garage. When using outside, move away from windows and doors to prevent CO from infiltrating your home. Additionally, it is wise to invest in a CO detector. If the alarm sounds, immediately leave your home and call 911.
- Do beware of animals, alligators, rodents and snakes in flooded areas. Critters and reptiles are plentiful in Florida, and when storms strike and flooding occurs, they seek shelter or move where the water takes them. Always be cognizant of what could be lurking in the water or around your home. Call your local animal services agency if you discover wild unwelcome visitors or dead ones on your property.
- Do keep plenty of clean water to drink and safe foods available to eat. Discard food that has ruined in the fridge during a power outage, or if it has come into contact with floodwaters. Even if it appears to be fine, it can make a body sick from any number of contaminants. The same goes for your regular water supply. Listen to local authorities regarding the safety of the water system in your area. The CDC advises you to use bottled, boiled or treated water for drinking, personal washing and brushing your teeth.
- Do promptly clean and disinfect wounds and injuries. Injuries and wounds often occur during and after severe weather. You should promptly and thoroughly clean wounds and address injuries to prevent infections. You should have a fully-stocked first aid kit available in your hurricane preparedness kit. If you don’t, you should.
- Do protect your emotional health. Seniors should always protect their emotional health. Severe storms can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety before, during and after they occur. Reach out to your family, friends, neighbors or qualified professionals to maintain a positive attitude and a healthy emotional state as normal life resumes.
- Do seek in-home care if you or a loved one needs it. I realize there are seniors with underlying health issues or conditions of aging that may require non-medical in-home care before, during and after severe storms. For these seniors, I am happy to offer a FREE Consultation to discuss specific needs and create a personalized care plan to help improve their quality of life through in-home care, specialized Alzheimer’s, dementia or Parkinson's care, personal care, companionship, nutritional meal planning & preparation, homemaking assistance and more.
I invite you to take advantage of a FREE Consultation to discuss how seniors benefit from in-home care, especially if they have special needs or require non-medical care services in the Clearwater area.
We, at Home Helpers® Clearwater, are honored to have received the Home Care Pulse – Best of Home Care® Provider of Choice Award for the fifth consecutive year: 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 & 2021. 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
National Weather ServiceFederal Alliance for Safe Homes