Floridians are about as familiar with hurricanes as we are with palm trees, beaches, and mosquitoes. What we may not recognize as readily are the best ways to keep our older loved ones safe and secure in the middle of dangerous storm conditions.
September is National Preparedness Month, so it’s a good opportunity to consider these helpful tips to ensure that you’re ready to help your favorite elders through this unpredictable season.
1. Food, water, and oxygen
The things we consume every day may be in short supply during and after a hurricane. Be prepared well in advance by making sure you have a three-day supply of food and water for each person in your household — a gallon of water per person per day is considered a safe minimum. If your senior relies on any type of machine to provide oxygen, keep additional supplies on hand, as vendors may face difficult or even insurmountable challenges delivering after a storm.
2. Alternate sources of power
As we age, our body has a harder time regulating its internal thermostat, making elders especially vulnerable to the extreme temperatures that can follow a storm-related power outage. It’s imperative you have a backup power plan in place to care for your senior. If you’re using a backup generator, remember that the only safe place to run a generator is outside, at least 15 feet away from the side of your house with the exhaust pointed away from any windows, doors, or vents. Don’t make the mistake of thinking a garage is a safe place, or that windows can adequately ventilate generator exhaust from an inside room. If your senior lives alone, be sure they have a charged cell phone and extra battery on hand for the aftermath of a storm.
If officials order an evacuation, or if the power goes out with no alternate sources available, you should be ready with an emergency evacuation plan. Know where you’ll go and how you’ll get your senior there – including how much gas you’ll need to get there – and leave before conditions deteriorate and it’s too late. Be sure to withdraw enough cash from your accounts ahead of time, in case banks and ATMs lose power during the storm.
In case your local pharmacy loses power in a storm, it’s crucial to obtain a sufficient supply of any prescription medications for your senior. You should keep enough on hand for at least seven days. At the beginning of each hurricane season, check the expiration dates on medications and prescriptions so you won’t have any holdups trying to refresh them in plenty of time if needed.
Every hurricane season brings its challenges and concerns. By taking the necessary precautions and getting prepared early, you and your elder loved one can comfortably navigate even the most threatening storms.