Hurricane Safety Tips for the Elderly

“Hurricane season affects the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico from June through November, though most severe storms occur between August and October,” according to the Travel Channel.

Hurricane season can be extremely stressful for the average person. Due to the latest technology, hurricane landfall and time of event can be predicted with greater accuracy. This gives people living in hurricane-prone areas enough time to make long-term preparations for their homes, pets and plan of evacuation. Individual circumstances will dictate how much in advance a person can plan. Special considerations are involved for the elderly due to chronic health conditions, limited income and mobility. The following are safety tips for the elderly when confronted with an imminent hurricane.

1. Keep all prescribed medications filled as soon as the medicine has been depleted. Many pharmacies allow customers to order online or call in a prescription refill so it will be ready the day it is needed. If a hurricane makes landfall, power may be out for several days, making it impossible to get a prescription refilled. If shelter is sought outside of town, other pharmacies will be unable to contact the home pharmacy for insurance and co-pay information.

2. At home, many people keep pill containers with a week’s supply of medication sorted and ready to take. When leaving home to seek shelter elsewhere, take all medications that are taken regularly in the original prescription bottles. It is illegal to travel with drugs not in their original prescription bottles. It would also make it difficult for someone to administer the medication without the complete information on the prescription bottle, should you become unable to take the medicines yourself.

3. For those on oxygen, be sure to keep a full supply of oxygen tanks whether you wait out the storm at home or have to stay in a shelter or hotel. If you have an oxygen-generator machine, call ahead to ask about electrical outlets at a shelter you plan to stay in. If remaining in your own home during a hurricane, make sure your power company knows that you are on oxygen.

4. Pack as much of your medicines and medical supplies or equipment ahead of time as you are able. Keep everything in one location to be sure nothing is forgotten.

5. Make a checklist of all things that must go with you if you plan to leave your home before the storm arrives. Check off each item as you pack it and load it in your vehicle. Make a separate checklist for things to do before you leave, such as turning off the coffee pot, turning off water and power to the home and securing all outside items that could become projectiles during a hurricane.

6. Give the name, location and phone number where you will be staying to relatives, neighbors, friends or others who would be concerned about your safety and whereabouts. If possible, tell all friends and family members the phone number of an out-of-state friend or relative. This would be the source of all contact, since you may not have phone service during and after a hurricane.

7. Make plans in advance for the care of pets. Keep enough pet food on hand for at least one week. If the pets will be boarded, write down any information about your pets that might be needed, including the address and phone number where you can be reached. There isn’t enough time to do these things if you wait until it is absolutely necessary.

8. If planning to remain in your own home, board up windows to prevent flying glass during the storm. This is also a good idea even if you plan to go to a shelter or hotel. During the storm, stay in the interior of your home with some sort of protection over your head.

9. Purchase a storm radio if you do not already own one. Make sure to have extra batteries on hand. Have a First-Aid kit with all the components in it. A cell phone is good to have if the power is out for any length of time.

10. Make a list of all medications taken regularly, how often taken, dosage amounts and what the medicine is taken for. Add the name and number of your family doctor to this list. Write down medicines you for which you have allergies.

11. Keep a flashlight and batteries on hand, as well as candles and a lighter. Make them easy to get to in case of sudden power loss.

12. Have plenty of non-perishable food on hand. Bottled water is also a good idea.

13. Keep a full tank of gas in all vehicles in case you need to evacuate suddenly.

Never attempt to drive to a shelter during a hurricane. After the storm has passed, wait for news telling you which roads and bridges may be closed before doing any traveling. Look for any downed power lines around your home and when driving. Call the power company to make them aware of any dangerous situation.

The better your hurricane plan, the less you will fear. Knowing what your plan is and making sure others know will ease anxiety. Be aware that water should be boiled if your town or city loses power. Bacteria can grow in any water that isn’t properly filtered or oxygenated.