Hurricane Preparedness for Seniors

Hurricane season in Florida runs from June 1st to November 30th, and while it’s easy to assume that this will not affect you or your loved one, natural disasters often hit with little warning. This is why it’s important to be prepared ahead of time.

The senior population is most vulnerable to the effects caused by hurricanes due to increasing incidence of health issues, diminished awareness, and mobility or transportation challenges. The aftermath of a hurricane can therefore quickly put your senior loved one at risk. Here are some practices to put in place to ensure safety for your senior loved one during a hurricane:

1. Create a hurricane preparedness plan. Establish a trustworthy network of individuals in your surrounding area to call upon if a hurricane hits. This may include the specific needs of your senior loved one, such as extra wheelchair batteries, oxygen, medication, or an extra pair of glasses. Keep a designated list of local contacts to call in the event of an emergency and be sure to check in before, during, and after a hurricane. It’s also helpful to be aware of local shelters nearby and the best routes to get there.

2. Assemble a hurricane disaster kit. Have all the necessary resources on hand in the event that your loved one will be sheltering in place. It’s recommended that you or your loved one be prepared with ample supplies for at least three days. Basic items should include:

· Water—at least a gallon a day per person

· Food—nonperishable and canned foods with a can opener

· Flashlight with extra batteries

· First-Aid kit with up-to-date supplies

· Battery-powered radio

· Personal hygiene items

· Blankets or sleeping bags

· Any necessary pet supplies

Items especially important for seniors:

· Medications—at least a week’s supply

· Medical equipment—hearing aids, glasses, dentures, oxygen tanks, etc. Be sure to have a spare of these items.

· A battery-powered fan to avoid heat exhaustion

In addition to these basic supplies, it’s beneficial to carry a packet of legal documents in a water-proof to-go bag. This can include any advance directives, birth certificate, social security card, insurance policies, and any financial records.

3. Be informed and aware of your surroundings. Be sure to monitor the TV and radio to remain updated on any new weather patterns. The National Weather Service typically issues hurricane advisories within 24-36 hours of a tropical storm threat. Have local emergency contacts and phone numbers easily-accessible. Charge your cell phone and keep vehicles fueled upon learning of an advisory. If you are a citizen living near an older adult, be aware of anyone that needs assistance, particularly if they live alone. Help inform them of impending disaster, and assist them in fortifying their home against high-speed winds, water, and flying debris.

4. Practice your plan. Establish a time to practice your hurricane preparedness plan. Retrace your escape route, call contact numbers, and assess any expired medications and medical supplies that have a limited shelf life.

When a hurricane does strike, it’s important to know that you and your loved one are safe and adequately prepared. Need help assembling a hurricane disaster kit, or practicing your plan? Our

Happier at Home caregivers are here to help. Happier at Home works to ensure your loved one’s safety while helping them to remain independent in their own homes