It is necessary to have a hurricane plan when disaster strikes, especially for seniors. Many situations can be prepared for and eliminated before hurricane season.
What Constitutes Proper Planning?
As with any evacuation plan, steps are required to execute that plan successfully. Depending on living situations seniors should talk to family members, close friends, and caregivers to create a hurricane preparedness plan. Some tips on constructing a good plan:
- If seniors live alone, reach out to support, and inform.
- Listen to the radio or tv for national weather service alerts and updates on the hurricane. This way, seniors can safely evacuate to a secure location with their family members if needed.
- Find specific evacuation routes. Map out meeting locations if homes are not a viable option. Listen to local government updates for places that families and seniors can evacuate to.
- If a loved one lives in a senior living community, understand the community’s plan. It is critical to know what to expect and to ensure that the resident is well informed and aware.
- Check for loose fixtures and shelving that could fall in a senior’s home during a hurricane.
- If a senior cannot evacuate, locate spots inside the house for them to stay safe during storm surges, high wind speeds, and other extreme weather conditions.
- Seniors should make sure that they have an emergency kit and ready to go bag for quick and easy access when evacuating.
- A stockpile of food and water for emergency use only in case of power outages during a hurricane or tropical storm.
- Have a backup plan. Review all available options and determine which will be the most effective.
- Accommodate for pets and seniors who might need help evacuating. Search for veterinarian offices and hotels that allow pets during hurricanes. For seniors who need mobility help, place accessible equipment (i.e., wheelchairs, crutches, walkers, etc.) in easy to find locations in case of evacuation.
Essential Items to Pack
Whether there is an evacuation or a hunker down situation, there are many essential items to consider when preparing for a hurricane:
- Canned Food or Non-perishable Food – things like soup, canned vegetables, crackers, peanut butter, cereal, granola bars, and power bars are just some of these items. Plan to pack 3-5 days worth of food if evacuating, and 14-days worth of food if staying put at home.
- Water – everyone should have at least 1-gallon of water per person, every day. Consider how much water seniors will need if staying in place or leaving for a mandatory evacuation.
- Pack of Batteries and Flashlights – Having a flashlight and an extra set of batteries can help seniors navigate through the dark during a power outage.
- Portable Chargers – if seniors have smartphones, a portable charger can come in handy. Make sure that the portable charger is fully charged so seniors will be able to recharge their phones, having access to emergency apps and contacts.
- Portable Weather Radio/Radio Apps – A portable weather radio or a radio app on a smartphone can help seniors receive important updates about the hurricane. Portable weather radios are durable and long-lasting immediately alerting seniors on storm updates. Radio apps are also an effective way to stay informed right from their smartphone. Apps include Spectrum Bay News 9, and NextRadio – Live FM Radio.
- Hurricane Emergency Apps – if seniors have a smartphone, some apps are great for updates leading up to, during, and after the hurricane. Apps like:
- Hurricane Tracker
- Hurricane – American Red Cross
- NOAA NowSiren
- GPS Mobile
- Zello Walkie Talkie
- Trusted Contacts
- Pet First Aid
- and Facebook
- These apps can also help first responders locate seniors and families who need help.
- Medication – it is important to pack enough medication for at least 14-days. Seniors or loved ones should make sure that their prescriptions are up-to-date and are refilled if low.
- Hygienic Necessities – these include toilet paper, paper towels, toiletries and anything that might be necessary to stay healthy and clean for at least 7-days.
- Clothing – seniors should pack at least one set of clothes for travel. Things like sweatpants, t-shirts, socks, and a pair of shoes. Seniors might also want to pack clothing that’ll keep them warm or dry. Also consider towels, blankets, and a favorite pillow to stay comfortable if evacuating to a shelter.
- Cash and bank cards – ATMs might not be working when a hurricane hits. Seniors should carry cash if they need to buy items or food. They should also keep bank cards on hand, so they don’t become lost or stolen.
- Handheld can opener – bringing along a manually operated handheld can opener, if evacuating, allows seniors to open their canned food easily.
- Essential Pet Items – if seniors have pets, bring along essential items when evacuating. Things like bowls, medication, food supply for at least 3-5 days, a toy, leash, collar, and any documentation relating to their up-to-date shots and medical history.
- Entertainment – with no electricity; seniors should have a way to relax and have fun. If leaving their home during an evacuation, bring a favorite book, magazine, a deck of playing cards, or an enjoyable board game.
- Smartphone/ Cell Phone – it is important to have a way to contact anyone in case of emergencies. Seniors should have cell phones with an extra battery, or a portable charging cell to keep their phone from dying.
- Contact Information – emergency hotlines, family members or close friends contact information are important to have on hand for when plans are interrupted or if seniors need help.
- Important Documents and Valuables – it’s important to backup vital documents in case of a home or property damage. Seniors should make copies or secure them in a laminated bag. These documents include:
- birth certificates
- medical history
- a list of prescriptions
- valuable homeownership documents
- social security cards
- It’s also important to entrust house keys and car keys with a trusted friend or family member, so they don’t become lost.
- Medical Kits and Instructions – Seniors should make sure their first aid kits are packed with sterile medical material and instructions on how to properly use medical items.
Seniors should also put Identifiers on their bags and accessible equipment (i.e., tags, string, name, etc.) to keep track of them. Make sure evacuation bags are easy to move and travel with.
Following this guide with the necessary items and tips listed will prepare seniors for a hurricane or natural disaster.