Have you ever lost power due to a severe storm? We are currently in the midst of hurricane season which started June first and will last until November 30th. Unfortunately, many Seniors wait until there is a named storm or a call to evacuate before they think about protecting themselves and/or their home from disaster. As a result, Seniors place themselves at risk and may endure unnecessary hardship and anxiety that could have been eliminated with a little forethought and planning.  Below is are the top eight tips for senior safety during a storm or natural disaster:

1.Make a list of all your medications, include any chronic illnesses and allergies. Please list all your physician’s names, their specialties and phone numbers at the bottom of the document. If you have a Health Care Proxy or Medical Power of Attorney (POA), place their contact information on that list as well. Carry the list in your wallet or purse at all times. This is a good practice regardless of whether it is hurricane season or not. First responders will look for that list if you become ill and are unable to speak for yourself.

2.Refill your medications. Check all your medication bottles and make sure you have at least a 30-day supply in order to avoid running out of medication during a power outage. Pharmacies lose power just like every other business and may not be open or able to refill your prescription requests. Put at least a week’s supply of medications in your “Go Bag”.

3.Put together a “Go Bag.”Items in your bag may include:

    • Medications: Don’t forget inhalers, wound care supplies for at least a week, diabetic supplies, portable oxygen tanks and extra tubing.
    • Electronics: Phone chargers, portable flashlights (preferably long-lasting LED bulbs or hand cranked), a battery operated radio.
    • Travel sized toiletries, first aid kit, back up eyeglasses, a can opener, a multipurpose tool with a knife, a roll of toilet paper, baby wipes.
    • Clothing: pack for a few days including a lightweight jacket/and or rain jacket. Consider purchasing a pair of waterproof boots.
    • A copy of your important documents in a folder.
    • Cash: small bills and coins, including a roll of quarters, enough to last you a few days. Remember if there is a power outage, ATM machines may not work either.
    • Enough food and water to last a few days. Think light and portable. Energy or granola bars are a great choice

4.Create a folder with copies of all your important papers including your will, living will, health care surrogate designee and any power of attorney documents. Call your insurance company to ensure that your coverage and all riders are up to date. If you live in a flood zone, ask if you have coverage and, if not, can you purchase additional protection. Copies of any policies should be included in your folder. Keep your folder in your “Go bag.” Place originals in a water and fireproof safe, and make sure that all pertinent involved parties have copies as well.

5.Chose an emergency contact outside the area, preferably out of state. If there is a loss of phones or electricity, EMS will not be able to get in touch with your emergency contact if they live down the block.

6.Consider purchasing a cell phone for emergencies. Inexpensive phones can be purchased along with minutes and texting options. Give the number to your emergency contact and any family members that might need to reach you. Remember to turn the phone on during a crisis so that loved ones can get in touch with you.

7.Make a plan for those with disabilities and for your pets. Are you able to walk? Do you need a wheelchair, EMS or a specialty transport service?  Will you need to be transported to a special needs shelter? Special needs shelters require an application process well in advance of a pending storm and it is likely that you will not be able to take your pet with you. If you have a pet, do they have any special medical needs? Contact your local veterinarian with options for sheltering pets during storms.

8.If you plan to shelter at home: make sure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors have up to date batteries (they need to be changed yearly). Consider investing in hurricane shutters and make prior arrangements for installation. If you require continuous oxygen or have any life sustaining device that requires electricity (or medications that require refrigeration), and have no plans to evacuate your home, now is the time to consider purchasing a generator and becoming familiar with how it works. Calculate how much gas you will need if you have to run it for a least a week.

Lastly, if you live in an assisted living or independent facility, or retirement community, make an appointment to discuss with your administration or HOA what plans they have to help you stay safe during this storm season. It is our goal at Activa Home Health to focus on senior safety – an once of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

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