Storm Preparedness Tips for Seniors

storm preparedness tips for seniors

Hurricane season, which begins in most regions of the U.S. June 1, is right around the corner. When Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast last year, senior citizens were among the hardest hit groups.

When a storm of Sandy’s magnitude hits, often evacuation is the best choice if you are in the direct line of the storm or live near the water. But you can prepare yourself for smaller storms and hurricanes, so that you can stay safe at home and know your basic needs are met.

Here are some tips to prepare yourself for a storm or other emergency.

Food & Water Supply

1. Stock up on water – The Center for Disease Control recommends three gallons per day, per person, with half of that available for drinking, and half for cooking and washing. If there are no young children or pets living with you, you can fill your bathtub with water for washing, in case the emergency disrupts the water supply to your house. But if young children live with you or you have pets, this is a drowning hazard. Instead, fill gallon milk containers or water bottles.

2. Take steps to keep food from spoiling. During Hurricane Sandy, power was out for weeks in some areas and many people lost hundreds of dollars of food from their freezers and refrigerators.

Pack your freezer and refrigerator with blocks of ice made by filling empty plastic milk containers or two-liter bottles. Food can stay safe in refrigerator without power for about four hours if you don’t open the refrigerator. Food in a freezer lasts one or two days.

Purchase an inexpensive freezer thermometer. When the thermometer is “in the red,” which usually indicates a temperature above 0 degrees Fahrenheit, the food is spoiled. Whether you have a thermometer or not, when in doubt, throw it out.

3. Know what to buy before the storm.
Buying milk and bread to prepare for a storm doesn’t make a lot of sense, unless you normally drink a lot of milk. Buy non-perishable items. If you have a gas stove, you can cook practically anything. Make sure you have matches to light your stove by hand, as the electronic ignition won’t work.

Keeping Yourself Safe

4. Write down important phone numbers. – People are accustomed to using auto-dial or having phone numbers saved in their cell phones. Write down important phone numbers, such as your doctor and family members who can help you in an emergency, in case you have to make a call from a neighbor’s home or use their cell phone.

5. Prepare a storm kit. Your storm kit should include a battery-powered radio, several flashlights, (LED lights burn the brightest and last the longest), and batteries for both. A head-worn LED is especially valuable during a blackout because you can use it when getting dressed, using the bathroom, or any other tasks that need two hands, without worrying about holding a flashlight. Include matches or a lighter to light your gas stove or a barbecue grill. Also include a basic first-aid kit, which you can purchase at any drug store.

6. Prepare an evacuation kit. Your evacuation kit is different from a storm kit, as it includes everything you’ll need to leave home in a hurry. “Preppers” call it a bug-out bag, but yours won’t be tailored to live in the wild! You’ll want to pack pajamas, clothing for a few days, a few non-perishable snacks, prescription medications (bring the whole bottle), and those phone numbers you wrote down.

While you don’t want to pack “heavy,” if you have one or two mementos that are irreplaceable, such as a small photo album, bring them. You might also want to bring a book or something to keep busy while you wait out the storm.

Ideally, you won’t need to evacuate without warning. But keeping a bag packed just prior to a storm means one less thing to worry about if it comes to that, so you can focus on your safety until the disaster passes.

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