Hurricane Safety Tips for the Elderly

The most important thing for the elderly to remember when a hurricane is approaching is to stay calm.  Remember that you have the advantage of life experience and common sense that will carry you through this emergency.

The next thing you need to do depends on your living  arrangements.  Do you live with a spouse or room mate?  Are you planning to stay home or evacuate?

If you live alone or don’t have someone to help you evacuate, you should register with the local officials for emergency transportation to a shelter. Most cities in hurricane prone areas have a dependable network for emergency transportation, but they need to know your needs, so call early.

Whether you’re going to evacuate or ride out the storm, start making your to do lists early. Hurricane season usually lasts from June 1 to November 30. It pays to be prepared. Make sure you have sufficient flood insurance in place at least a month before hurricane season starts. If you wait until the storm is headed toward your area, it could be too late. Usually general homeowners insurance won’t cover damage from a hurricane.

As soon as it appears the hurricane is  headed your way, start gathering your medical supplies.  Have your prescriptions filled and make sure you have a supply of your over the counter medication on hand. Pack an extra pair of glasses, hearing aid supplies, a battery operated radio, and perhaps a deck of cards to pass the time. Even a small flashlight might be of some help in a shelter, if the lights should go out.  Take a couple of changes of clothes, bedding, and some non-perishable  food. 

You will need to make plans for your pets if you have to evacuate. Some shelters allow you to take pets, but most don’t. Perhaps arrangements could be made with a local animal shelter in emergency conditions.

Whatever method of evacuation you choose, space will be limited.  You will need to take legal papers such as deeds to your property, birth certificates, insurance policies and any papers of value that can’t be easily replaced. Store your family pictures and other irreplaceable items up high, so they will be protected from rising water.

If you choose to stay home and ride out the storm, you will be able to stockpile the supplies you need. Use a little common sense. Don’t purchase a freezer full of frozen dinners, when there is a large possibility that your electricity could be off for an extended period of time.  It would be alright to add extra ice to your refrigerator and have several chests of ice and supplies, but make your primary food supplies the non-perishable type, and things that need little preparation. Don’t open your refrigerator unless absolutely necessary.  Get everything out at once instead of opening repeatedly. If your frozen food begins to thaw and you still have facilities for cooking it, you may cook it and put it on ice. It will keep safely for a day or two, but remember that it is better to throw something out than risk food poisoning. It might take as long as a week for emergency workers to get to you in a worst case scenario.  Have at least a week’s worth of food and bottled water stored.

You will need a battery operated radio or television, and plenty of batteries. A crank radio would be ideal for  this type of emergency situation. Candles, matches, lanterns, flashlights and a camp stove with propane would also be helpful. Many families in hurricane prone areas invest in generators. While they can be very helpful, they can also be very dangerous if not used properly. Many people do not realize that a generator should not be placed near the house. Carbon Monoxide fumes can be deadly.  Unfortunately many have lost their lives from not heeding this warning.

A supply of water purification tablets could also be useful. Draw up large amounts of water in your bath tub or basins in case extra water is needed for flushing toilets. Purchase a first aid kit and a car emergency kit, and fill up your car with gas in case you need to evacuate at the last minute.

Stay calm, be prepared, and you will weather the storm.