Of all the dangers that Mother Nature brings, nothing quite compares to the sheer devastation brought forth by hurricanes. Thousands of homes and businesses are destroyed every year by these tropical storms, and many people have become homeless overnight as a result.
The frequency and intensity of hurricanes seems to have increased over the course of the last decade, and names like Sandy and Katrina are now symbolic with pure disaster. These particular storms demonstrated with ferocity what happens when the natural world collides with humankind, as is illustrated by the hundreds of fatalities and hundreds of billions of dollars in property damage that occurred within the span of a couple days.
Are You Ready For a Hurricane?
Media coverage of natural disasters rarely tells the whole story. Although thousands of reports have been generated, it is still difficult to gain a clear perspective of what happened on the ground; of what the individuals living in the danger zone were witness to. If you are one of the lucky people to never live through a hurricane, picture what it would be like to be given less than a day to evacuate your home and seek safe shelter.
As you can probably imagine, these situations are far worse for the elderly and infirm, especially those who are physically dependent on the aid of another. Whereas younger people are more apt to quickly depart their residences, older adults may need to call on a caregiver or close relative for assistance. However, in the midst of a tropical storm, time is of the essence and this may not be a feasible option.
Though patients living in retirement homes and assisted living facilities have the direct aid of on-site medical staff, individuals residing at home are exposed to a great deal of risk. If you live in a region where hurricanes are a possibility, preparing for one before it strikes could potentially mean the difference between life and death. No one wants to think of worst-case scenarios, but the reality of natural disasters has proved repeatedly that precautionary measures are vital.
How the Elderly Can Safely Prepare for a Hurricane
The first step of safe disaster planning is having a back-up plan. If for whatever reason you are unable to stay with friends or family during the event, make sure you have a designated safety zone in your house. This should be an interior room with no windows. It is a good idea to store a first aid medical kit and food supplies (including bottled water) in this space during hurricane season. Other essential items include a flashlight, extra batteries, blanket, pillow, weather radio, and a working cell phone. The latter is vital during natural disasters, as landline phones are some of the first things to lose service in inclement weather. Lastly, if you take medication, know exactly where your supply is well in advance.
Residents living in evacuation zones must be ready to leave immediately, and this further stresses the importance of pre-hurricane preparation. Before hitting the road (with a full tank of gas mind you), remember to reserve a hotel room as soon as possible. Waiting too long will risk a “no vacancy” dilemma, particularly if you live in an urban area where there are thousands of evacuees.
When disaster strikes, it’s important to be sure that everyone stays safe. For additional advice and tips for preparing your older loved one for a natural disaster, please check out these additional resources:
Red Cross: Disaster Preparedness for Seniors, By Seniors
Florida Power and Light Company (FPL): Are You Ready? Hurricane Preparedness Guide for Seniors
Center for Disease Control (CDC): Disaster Planning Tips for Older Adults and Their Families