As a resident of Florida, you are well aware that severe weather can often appear out of nowhere. While most residents know what to do to prepare for a hurricane or major storm, many do not know about the extra precautions needed for senior citizens and those with chronic health conditions. Though each person’s needs are specific to their situation, there are steps to be taken that can help ensure your unique needs are met during times of severe weather.
Create an Emergency Kit
Though most Floridians know the essentials they’ll need if a hurricane hits, many fail to stock up in advance or in the appropriate quantities. The rule of thumb is that you should have enough non-perishable food, bottled water, medications, and other necessities to last at least three days for each member of your household. However, those with special health concerns may have different requirements. Senior citizens, for example, can get dehydrated more easily and should keep a larger supply of water on hand. Keep your specific needs in mind and plan well in advance, not just when a storm is on the way.
A list of important items you may need in addition to those mentioned above may include:
- Toiletries and sanitary items
- First-aid kit
- Manual can opener
- Portable chargers for cell phones
- Emergency contact numbers
- Important documents, including copies of all prescriptions
- Change of clothes
These items should be stored in a water-proof container, preferably one that has wheels and can easily be moved in case evacuation is necessary. Be sure all supplies are not past their expiration date.
Have a Plan of Action
Even the safest homes often require some amount of preparation before a storm hits. Shutters may need to be put up, lawn furniture put away. Can you do this yourself or do you need assistance? Designate important storm preparation tasks to trusted friends or family members so you know ahead of time that these things will be taken care of. Make a written list of who is responsible for which tasks and keep it in an easily visible place. This way, the stress of an imminent storm won’t cause important things to be forgotten.
Does your local hurricane shelter have facilities that will meet your needs? Don’t hesitate to call and find out, even if no hurricane is on the horizon. If evacuation orders are issued, do you know where you’ll go and how you’ll get there? As with supplies, plan ahead for the steps you’ll need to take to ensure your safety and well-being, and share this plan with your family or caregiver.
Consider the Details—Some Questions to Ask
- Do you need special equipment that requires electricity? Can it be operated with batteries or generator?
- Do you have a service animal? Do you have an emergency supply of food and water for them as well?
- Can you get an extra few days worth of medications to have on hand if needed?
- If power is out for an extended period of time, will your medications be affected by hotter indoor temperatures? If so, what precautions can you take?
- If you use a motorized wheelchair, do you have a backup power supply in case power is lost? Could you use a manual wheelchair as an alternative?
- Do you receive home care service? What is your caregiver’s severe weather plan? Can he/she help you with your plan?
No one knows your needs as well as you and your caregiver, and there is no time like the present to make sure you’re prepared for severe weather. Talk with your caregiver about creating your emergency hurricane kit and create a plan of action together. Planning ahead means you are less likely to leave important details unnoticed.