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How Seniors Should Prepare For A Hurricane (2024)

Hurricane season in the Atlantic begins on June 1st and ends November 30th.

If you live in a coastal area, that means 6 months of closely watching weather forecasts to check if a tropical storm or hurricane is headed your way.

Ideally, you should prepare the following items before hurricane season begins and store them somewhere they can be easily grabbed if you have to leave in a hurry.

Emergency Kits

The set of emergency kits that we recommend for any type of natural disaster are:

  • First Aid Kit – the basic items needed in case of a medical emergency, but should also include your medication and any medical equipment you are currently using (i.e. oxygen, blood pressure cuff, mobility devices, etc.) – Read more about First Aid Kits here.
  • Evacuation Kit – this is basically a bag (usually a back pack or duffel bag) that you take with you in the event of an evacuation. Include emergency supplies for an extended period (at least a week). Put in items like bottled water (1 gallon per person, per day), survival foods that have a long shelf life, clothing, a blanket, an extra pair of comfortable shoes, medication and medical supplies (ie: oxygen, colostomy bags, diabetes supplies, etc), tools, and food / water /supplies for your pets. Anything that could get ruined if it got wet should be put in a waterproof container. Read more about what to include in your evacuation kit here.
  • Shelter In Place Kit – this kit is meant to be used if you are able to stay in your home during the hurricane. In addition to filling up your car with gas before the storm, you should have the following basic items on hand:
    • Survival water for at least a week
    • Water treatment tablets
    • Long-term freeze-dried food
    • Dried food staples such as rice and beans
    • Canned food (make sure they are not expired)
    • Can opener
    • Cash in case the ATM machines are not working
    • Extra batteries for cell phones, weather radio, etc
    • Cooking set with fuel that is safe to use indoors
    • Toilet kit – the one caution I would give to seniors using a toilet kit is to choose one that can withstand their weight and to use it in a location where they can use something to help themselves up and down from the bucket. Be extra careful because it could be very easy for someone with poor strength and/or balance to fall off these bucket toilets.
    • Emergency lights – You can have flashlights handy but I like these light bulbs because they automatically come on if the power goes off. They last for 4-5 hours which can give you plenty of time to pull out other emergency lights.
    • Any specialty items that you may require
  • Pet Kits – if you have a pet – then you also must have a pet emergency kit available. Put in anything you’ll need for pet care, including the animal’s food, medications, and important papers like their licenses and vaccinations (ie: rabies, etc). Know which evacuation shelters take pets (many don’t)!

Older adults should also add to their kits:

  • Cane users – Pack a folding cane in your evacuation kit.
  • Walker / Wheelchair users – Have replacement parts on hand.
  • Documents – Keep your important documents (driver’s license, passport, and insurance information) in a safe place where you can easily grab them if you need to evacuate. Store them in a waterproof document holder. Include serial numbers and operation manuals of any medical equipment that you may be using and will continue to need.
  • Contact List – Many of us currently keep our list of friends, neighbors and family on our phones but I recommend creating a paper list of their contact information, as well, and include it in your documents folder.
  • Hearing aid batteries – Keep a couple sets of extra batteries for your hearing aids in your emergency kit.
  • Eyewear – Keep an extra pair or two of eyeglasses and sunglasses in your kit, as well.
  • Medications and medical devices that you currently use.
  • Extra clothing, adult diapers, etc.

Don’t Forget A Hurricane Escape Plan

If you are a senior, or have aging parents and / or elderly relatives, and live in an area that is prone to hurricanes, it’s important to have a plan in place well before one hits.

Here are some things to keep in mind when making your hurricane escape plan:

  • Evacuation Shelters – A list of evacuation shelters in your area is very important as you may not have the chance to make a list at the last minute. If you have a pet, make sure you have a plan for them as well. Many hurricane shelters do not allow pets (they will allow service animals, however), so you will need to make other arrangements for their care.
  • Know Your Evacuation Route – If you live in a hurricane evacuation zone, make sure you know what route you will take to evacuate. Plan ahead – map out your route and drive it a couple of times ahead of hurricane season.
  • Transportation (how are you getting to the shelter?) – If you don’t have a car, or can’t drive, make arrangements with someone who can evacuate you if necessary. This could be a friend, family member, or even your local American Red Cross chapter.
  • A Safe Meeting Point inside the shelter in case you get separated from loved ones or are unable to contact anyone.
  • Stay Informed – Listen for updates about the hurricane and the latest information its on path from the National Weather Service via a weather radio (get a battery-operated radio so you can stay informed in case of power outages). This will help you know when it is time to take action and how to best prepare for the hurricane’s impact.

Taking into account the needs you have, consider signing up for Smart 911 (it’s free).

This is an organization that works to provide you with the most accurate and efficient help during an emergency.

For more information on how to prepare for a hurricane, you can visit the FEMA website or the National Hurricane Center website.

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