Whether you live in parts of the country affected by hurricanes, or where snowfall impacts your electricity, weather emergencies can arrive quickly and without warning. Being prepared for emergencies before they happen can be the key to survival and safety, and in the event of displacement, they will keep everyone as comfortable as possible.
For those of us who have senior citizens in our lives, it’s important to take extra precautions when it comes to weather-related scenarios. While many elderly are in great shape, some experience physical ailments that require additional attention.
Create an Emergency Preparedness Kit
Whether the senior citizen you’re assisting lives in a community home or in her own home, you need to pack an emergency preparedness kit that can be ready in a moment’s notice. Such a kit includes the following:
- Non-perishable food for at least three days. This includes one gallon of water per person for each day power might be out.
- Your important numbers, including the numbers of family members, neighbors, and anyone else important.
- A radio, flashlight, and fresh batteries. This is especially true if you wear hearing aids, as backup batteries can be crucial.
- Up-to-date medications for at least seven days, as emergencies can leave people stranded and without access to a pharmacy.
- A small stash of cash, as ATM’s may not be available.
- Copies of personal documents, such as health insurance cards, home insurance papers, passports, social security cards, birth certificates, and other important documents.
- Items like toilet paper, trash bags, and other personal hygiene items.
- Extra clothing that is applicable for the season
Make it physically easy on you and your loved one by packing the kit into something that is easy to carry and transport in case of quick evacuation.
Develop an Evacuation Plan
If the senior citizen you assist lives in a nursing home or retirement community, speak directly with one of the administrators or nurses to learn about the facility’s emergency plans. Determine where the senior citizens will be transported to in the event of an emergency evacuation. Share this information with the rest of your family so they know what to expect.
If the senior citizen you assist lives alone, it’s important to create an emergency plan beforehand. Talk to him about what your concerns are if a weather emergency hits and communicate the details of your evacuation plan so he knows when to expect you to pick him up.
General Preparation Tips
Create a written list of emergency contacts and place it in an easy-to-find location – like beside the landline most senior citizens still own. Yes, this is still a good idea even in an era when everyone (even senior citizens) rely upon cellphones for everything. Make sure your senior citizen brings that list and a cell phone charger if your family needs to evacuate.
Store wheelchairs and canes in the same place each day, so that, in the event of a quick evacuation, they can be found easily. Label any canes, wheelchairs, and walkers to prevent from misplacing them in case your family needs to stay in a shelter.
Unfortunately, unless it’s an official service dog, pets typically aren’t allowed in shelters, so help your senior citizen devise an emergency plan for her pet if you need to evacuate quickly and you can’t take the pet with you.
Since you never can tell when a weather emergency might occur, practice your evacuation drill and assess the status of your emergency preparation kit every six months. This will help your family and the senior citizen you will assist become comfortable with the process, as this will hopefully reduce the stress everyone will feel when bad weather strikes.