Hurricane season in the Atlantic begins on June 1st and ends November 30th. That’s 5 months of closely watching weather forecasts to check if any tropical storms are headed your way. What is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones?
How should seniors prepare for hurricane season? Hurricane preparedness for older adults should include a set of specific emergency kits including first aid kits, evacuation kits, shelter in place kits and pet kits. Also included should be an escape plan, emergency contact list, additional batteries and lights as well as medications and medical equipment currently being used.
Truthfully, everyone should have an emergency kit and survival/escape plan in place, but most especially if you live in a hot zone like California or the Gulf Coast. But also especially if you are a senior and/or require special needs.
Many people wonder if hurricanes can be prevented or manipulated. Although there has been a growing interest in manipulating the weather to prevent (or increase) hurricanes, there has been little success in effectively doing so. The only thing we truly have control over, however, is the way we prepare for them. Preparedness includes protecting your property, your valuables, and yourself in order to mitigate the damage or loss.CrisisEquipped.com
What Elderly Adults Need To Prepare For A Hurricane
Seniors are more vulnerable to natural disasters for a variety of reasons that could include physical and/or cognitive impairments, lack of awareness and/or preparedness, lack of a support system, etc.
The resulting statistics from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was…
Drowning (40%), injury and trauma (25%), and heart conditions (11%) were the major causes of death among Louisiana victims. Forty-nine percent of victims were people 75 years old and older.National Library of Medicine
So, the importance of being prepared for a hurricane (or any natural disaster) is – in our opinion – doubly important for older adults.
Emergency preparedness for seniors are slightly different in that they emphasize three main factors…
- Medications – many seniors (not all of course) take medication on a regular basis so before a disaster hits, it’s important to have enough of that medication on hand to cover you for at least a week.
- Medical equipment – If you require oxygen or colostomy bags or catheters other medical equipment, you will want to have at least a week’s worth of supplies of those as well in your emergency kit.
- Transportation – if you are an older adult that can no longer drive then you will need to make arrangements beforehand to be transported to a safe location if evacuations are put in place.
Hurricane Preparation Checklist For Seniors
You can put together a few “kits” to keep you organized and prepared at a moment’s notice if needed.
The one “good” thing about hurricanes is that you can prepare for days in advance (as compared to tornadoes and earthquakes).
The set of emergency kits that we recommend for any type of natural disaster are…
- First Aid Kit – this of course includes the basic items needed in case of a medical emergency but should additionally 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) that you take with you if you have to evacuate. It would include items like water, survival foods that have a long shelf life, clothing, a blanket and extra pair of comfortable shoes, shelter (like a tent), light and heat and other items. Read more about what to include in your evacuation kit here.
- Shelter In Place Kit – this kit is meant if you are able to stay in your home during the hurricane. In addition to filling up your car with gas as soon as possible you should have the following basic items on hand…
- Survival water
- 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
- 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. To 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 the love of a pet – then you will want to care for them as well in case of a hurricane or other emergency. I would recommend to then also have a pet emergency kit available.
Having these kits put together beforehand will help most older adults to survive a hurricane as intact as possible.
Senior’s Checklist For Hurricane Preparedness
In addition to the kits mentioned above, the following checklist is specifically designed for older adults to help them prepare as much as possible for an oncoming hurricane.
- Cane users – I would recommend to pack a folding cane in your evacuation kit just in case.
- Walker / Wheelchair users – I would recommend to have replacement parts on hand. If you live in a remote type of area and you are using a wheelchair you can be extra safe and purchase an all terrain wheelchair like this one.
- Documents – Keep your important documents in a water proof document holder. I would also 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 would recommend to create a paper list as well and include it in your documents folder.
- Hearing aid batteries – Keep an extra set or two of hearing aid batteries in your emergency kit
- Eyewear – Also important to keep an extra pair or two of eyeglasses and sunglasses in your kit as well
- 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. It’s also extremely important if you have pets as not all shelters will accept pets.
- An Escape Plan – Something not many of us do is to create (and routinely practice) an escape plan if you need to evacuate at any point. This would include having available transportation (especially if you don’t drive) as well as a safe meeting point in case you get separated from loved ones or are unable to contact anyone.
Taking into account the needs you have, you should consider signing up for Smart 911, an organization that works to provide you with the most accurate and eﬃcient help during an emergency.