As Texans continue the monumental task of Hurricane Harvey recovery, we Floridians are preparing for the worst with Hurricane Irma. Working with vulnerable seniors, we never underestimate the potential effects of dangerous weather. Hurricane planning begins at the start of hurricane season. Anytime even a minor storm approaches, we evaluate and coordinate with each client. With the strength and size of Hurricane Irma, we’re re-emphasizing the seriousness to our clients and families.
Linda Chamberlain, EasyLiving’s founder, was interviewed on CNN about EasyLiving client preparations and senior hurricane safety:
As Linda shared, some families have brought their loved ones into their homes up north to stay well away from the danger. But, many seniors refuse to leave. It’s the same reasons (and fears/emotions) they often give for not moving to Assisted Living or getting help. “I’ve lived here for 50/60/70 years and I’m just fine.” The fear of change (and the idea that they might lose some control/independence) often underlies these statements.
We share a few tips below that are useful in the planning process (even last minute) and dealing with any potential disaster. Check out some of our top resources for hurricane safety for seniors too.
Tips on hurricane safety for seniors from our experts:
- Don’t underestimate the dangers, particularly if you require medication, oxygen, medical treatments or care/assistance. Anyone with chronic disease or disability is vulnerable during and after a storm. Make a plan based on your situation (personal needs, home’s location and preparedness, and alternatives). Do not make these top 5 hurricane planning mistakes.
- Register with the special needs shelters, but use them as a last resort…not your plan. Here’s some important information to know about special needs shelters:
The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County and School Board staff these shelters with nurses and other medical personnel. Oxygen is available, but air conditioning may not be available if power is interrupted.
Before going to a shelter, arrange to bring at least a two-week supply of any medications you need along with any needed portable equipment. If you have special diet requirements, be sure to pack your own special non-perishable snacks. For your own comfort, bring items such as bedding, sheets, pillows, and blankets. Cots are available only on a limited basis and are not guaranteed. Special needs shelters do not have hospital beds and cannot assist those with acute medical problems.
- Stock up and count on up to a couple weeks without supplies and utilities if you shelter in place. (In our checklist below you can find supplies as well as commodities that are often in short supply after a storm.)
- Pack well to be prepared if you evacuate. Get our hurricane kit checklist for sheltering in place and evacuating (plus a pet checklist). Don’t forget your important papers, medication supply, and medical history information. Comfort is important to your physical and mental well-being in such stressful situations, so take comfort items, snacks, and something to keep you entertained.
- If your loved one lives in a care facility, find out about their disaster plans and where they may evacuate. How do they plan to communicate with responsible parties?
- Make a communication plan. For those sheltering in place, have a corded phone. Charge up cell phones and have some power banks charged up if possible. Charging the phone in a car can work as a backup too. Coordinate who can check in on your loved one after a storm and make sure you have all contact information.
Hurricane Safety for Seniors: Resources
Disaster Management for Alzheimer’s Caregiver: a must-read for anyone caring for a loved one with dementia (at home or at a distance) with caregivers’ experiences, practical tips, and specific resources
What to Do After a Hurricane: take caution in the aftermath. For vulnerable seniors, this is perhaps the riskiest time when they’re often without supplies and support for days or weeks. No electricity combined with Florida’s steamy weather makes for more than unpleasant conditions. Warn your loved ones of basic safety precautions. Attempting repairs and outside cleanup leads to many injuries.