As the Atlantic hurricane season approaches, family caregivers can help vulnerable seniors develop an emergency plan, form a support network, and update emergency kits. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30. Those who are not prepared, have a month to make some necessary preparations before the first Atlantic storms appear.

Most of us have learned to keep a watchful eye on the weather; however, a storm can change course and catch us by surprise. Not even technology can give us fair warning when storms whip-up unexpected changes. In 2004, Hurricane Charley had been projected to hit the Tampa area, but instead it wobbled and changed direction. After Charley’s punch, Florida sustained the wrath of three more storms: Ivan, Frances and Jeanne. The storms left a torn and battered state, and many Floridians were left without power for days to come. Emergency preparations were not to be ignored again by those who were caught without a plan or emergency kit that summer.

Steps to Better Prepare for a Weather Emergency

There are three steps family caregivers can take to prepare for the Atlantic hurricane season: develop a reliable support network, design a realistic plan, and put together an emergency kit that meets the needs of senior loved ones.

Build a Reliable Support Network

Have in place a support network of reliable family members, friends, neighbors, health care providers and caregivers who can assist and help out in case of an emergency. The American Red Cross encourages setting up a reliable support network before an emergency occurs. The following are just a few steps to consider when organizing a productive support group:

-    Inform your support group of your plans and your medical needs

-    Practice and review emergency contact drills

-    Exchange important keys with reliable members of support group

-    Provide copies of important emergency medical information, along with evacuation plans

-    Designate who will be contacting you in case of a disaster

-    Update your emergency contacts’ phones and locations, at least twice a year

Develop an Emergency Plan       

What are your plans in the event of a weather emergency? When a storm occurs, family members may not be able to reach senior loved ones because of weather conditions and perilous road conditions, which makes communicating a senior’s emergency plan all the more important.

When making a plan, include emergency contact information for reliable contacts. In addition, also include contacts living out of the area. Discuss emergency plans with family, close friends, health care agencies, as well as family caregivers and agency caregivers. Include a designated member of your support group to contact you and check on your well-being. Contact emergency management offices in your county to sign up for Special Needs Shelter, should you or a loved one meet their requirements.

Prepare and Update Emergency Kit    

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) a standard emergency kit must contain water, food and medication to sustain all members of a household for at least three days. Also, older seniors and family caregivers may need additional items. As people age, their needs will change, too. The following are just a few items that may be included in a senior’s emergency kit:

-    Extra pair of prescription or reading glasses

 -   Disposable gloves, sanitary paper, wipes and adult diapers if needed

-    Prescription medication, along with doctor’s contact information

-    Include portable cellphone and chargers, hearing aid batteries, flashlight, batteries and bulbs

-    Hand-held can opener

-    Hand-cranked or solar powered weather radio

-    Include essential property and insurance documents, along with medical information

-    Add an extra change of clothing, undergarments, along with a pair of all-terrain shoes 

-    Favorite book, deck of cards, dominoes

-    Include enough water for a minimum of three days; 1 gallon per person per day

-    Non-perishable foods, along with dried fruits and unsalted dry nuts

-    Place items in a sturdy waterproof container, with built-in rollers for easy transportation

We hope this information has been helpful to you and your senior loved ones. Developing an emergency plan, organizing a reliable support group, and preparing an emergency kit should be at the top of a family’s to-do list.

Senior Helpers values the importance of emergency preparation. Older family members are often the most vulnerable when disaster strikes.

Should a family member need home health care, feel free to contact Senior Helpers of Orlando at 407-628-4357. We provide dementia care and home health care services in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties.

 

Ana P. DeLane

Senior Helpers of Orlando Team Member

Resources:

Preparing Makes Sense for Older Americans; FEMA; educational video retrieved April, 29, 2015, from http://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/de1c9cc6-8e2b-4d8a-a3a9-9717f07b7c30/OlderPeople_COMP_FINAL_MIXv4.wmv

The Importance of a Personal Support Network; Seniors; American Red Cross; retrieved April 28, 2015, from http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/seniors

Make a Disaster Preparedness Plan, Know What to Do In Case of Emergency; American Red Cross; retrieved from http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/plan

Family Emergency Plan; Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA; retrieved April 30, 2015, from http://www.ready.gov/sites/default/files/documents/files/Family_Emegency_Plan.pdf




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