Although storms sometimes form earlier, the official hurricane season in Florida runs from June 1st through November 30th. And even though your aging loved one should know ahead of time that a hurricane is coming, some natural disasters strike with little or no advanced warning. Either way, it’s prudent that your loved one be prepared and have a senior’s emergency kit in place so they can safely “weather the storm” no matter what Mother Nature sends their way.
Why Are Older Adults at Higher Risk?
Seniors are more vulnerable to natural disasters like hurricanes due to the increased likelihood of chronic health conditions, functional limitations, cognitive impairment, and mobility and transportation challenges. As a result, the aftermath of a hurricane can quickly put the average older adult – including yours – at risk.
Your Senior Emergency Kit Checklist
If you have one, your emergency kit probably contains standard survival supplies such as non-perishable food, drinking water, first aid equipment, blankets, batteries, etc. But if you have an aging loved one living in Florida near the coast, you’ll need to take some additional emergency preparedness steps.
Factors to consider when creating an emergency kit with a senior in mind include long-term power outages, floodwaters, phone service disruptions, the heat, and more.
To help ensure their safety and comfort, here’s what to include in your senior’s emergency kit:
If your senior has limited mobility or is bedbound, they probably rely on some type of mobility aid. For example, if they use a wheelchair or walker, make detailed plans for how they will get around and evacuate their home in the event of an emergency.
Visual and hearing aids
If your loved one is blind or visually impaired, keep an extra cane by their bed with a whistle attached to it. Remind them to exercise caution when moving around during or immediately after a hurricane, as items in the home may have shifted, causing walking paths to get obstructed.
Anyone who is hearing impaired should keep extra batteries for hearing aids with their emergency supplies. When not in use, store hearing aids in a special container and place them in a designated space.
Durable medical equipment
Since most emergency shelters do not have durable medical equipment (DME), evacuating seniors are forced to bring their own. These essential items may include oxygen, mobility aids, blood sugar monitors, CPAP devices, and more.
Personal hygiene and sanitation products
Seniors often require specific supplies to ensure their hygiene and comfort. Be sure to stock your loved one’s “go bag” with plenty of items such as incontinence products, bathing supplies, latex gloves, toilet paper, commode liners, etc. While you’re at it, don’t forget to pack face masks, garbage bags, towels, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes.
Medication compliance is vital for a senior’s long-term health and well-being even under normal circumstances. Talk to your loved one’s doctor about obtaining an extra week’s supply of all their prescription meds and then store them – per the storage instructions on the label – in a convenient place.
ID and other important information
Although the originals are ideal, store copies of your senior’s driver’s license, other identification cards, and health documents in a water-tight bag. Also include copies of their durable power of attorney (POA), advanced directives, primary contacts, and a complete medication list. If they must evacuate, bringing copies of the deed or lease to their home, along with insurance policies and related papers, is recommended.
Since hurricanes can disrupt normal communication channels for days or weeks, formulate a communication backup plan so you can stay in touch with your loved ones if they are sheltering in place. If they are receiving professional in-home senior care, speak to the provider about their contingency plan if roads become impassible.
Your Loved One’s Safety and Comfort Come First
Keeping aging loved ones safe and comfortable in the aftermath of a hurricane isn’t easy when you live far away. At First, In Care, we’ve helped countless seniors and their families seamlessly navigate Florida hurricanes over the years, including some major storms. In addition to staff training, we have contingency protocols in place that ensure continuity of care whenever a natural or manmade disaster strikes.
At First In Care, your aging loved one’s safety and comfort are always our top priority. To learn more about our flexible senior home care solutions or schedule a free in-home consultation for a loved one in Manatee County, FL, today, please visit us at www.firstincare.com.