How Seniors Can Prepare for Emergencies

Hurricane Florence is making the news as the first major hurricane of the 2018 season. Its winds have been battering North Carolina all Thursday, and devastating storm surges and destructive winds are expected when it makes landfall early this morning.

Here in New Jersey our forecast is much calmer for the next few days, but make no mistake: hurricane season has arrived.

While the Southern portion of the East Coast tends to bear the brunt of these fierce storms, New Jersey has not been untouched in the past few years. Hurricane Sandy, of course, was the most destructive hurricane ever recorded in New Jersey, and some communities are still recovering now, 6 years later.

Several other hurricanes and tropical storms in the last few years have swept past our state, leaving damage and power outages in their wakes.

New Jersey has a large percentage of seniors, the most vulnerable population in a hurricane or any other extreme weather event. Today we’ll cover some important safety tips for seniors during hurricane season.

Stay Informed

The biggest cause of weather-related injuries and deaths is ignorance. Seniors who live alone and do not know a weather event is coming can be in serious danger. If your elderly loved one lives alone, make sure they’re aware of the weather forecast.

In any case of extreme weather, check on your elderly neighbors or loved ones in advance to make sure they’re prepared.

Seniors should keep their radio tuned to local weather stations so they can check the weather daily.

Switch Your Benefits to Direct Deposit

This is a good idea in general for seniors. Letting your Social Security benefit check come in the mail can put your put money at risk of theft. And after extreme weather, your mail service can be disrupted for days or weeks. To avoid any delays that can cause you to fall behind on paying your bills, you can choose to have your benefits deposited directly into your checking account, or onto a prepaid debit card. Call (800) 333-1795 to set it up.

Prepare an Emergency Kit

Seniors should keep enough emergency supplies in their home to last at least three days. Here are some things to stockpile in a safe, accessible place:

  • Bottled water—one gallon per person per day, for at least three days. You can use this for both drinking and sanitation, if necessary.
  • Non-perishable food, for three days. Tuna, canned vegetables, crackers, and beef jerky are all good options. Make sure to include a can opener!
  • A week’s supply of all prescription medications or treatments you currently take, as well as over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • First-aid kit
  • Extra blankets or sweaters, in case the power goes when it’s cold out
  • Copies of all your important documents—family records, wills, power of attorney documents, deeds, social security numbers, credit card and bank information, and tax records. Keep these documents in a waterproof case, along with the names and numbers of your loved ones and doctors.
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities, if necessary
  • Enough colostomy bags, incontinence supplies, hearing aid batteries, etc. to last a week
  • Moist towelettes and garbage bags for sanitation
  • Pet supplies, if applicable

Make a Plan

Your emergency plan will depend on your circumstances, the amount of family you have in the area, and how mobile you are. In some cases, you may decide to ride out the storm at a relative’s house or other place where you can get help.

If you receive regular household help, or you travel to a hospital or clinic for regular treatment such as dialysis, speak with your care providers about how you can continue to receive the care you need should the roads be impassable.

For families who are worried about how their elderly loved ones would manage in a weather-related crisis, it may be time to consider moving them to a long-term care home. At long-term care facilities like Regency Nursing, we have detailed emergency plans in place for all scenarios.

Whether its hurricanes or winter storms, we make sure our residents and staff stay safe and sound throughout the incident.

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