Protecting Those Who Can’t Protect Themselves, Part II: Hurricane Safety and Health Conditions

While most residents know what to do to prepare for a hurricane or major storm, many do not know about the extra precautions needed for those with chronic health conditions. Your loved one’s limited independence means they’ll be depending on you to ensure their unique needs are provided for. Though each person’s needs are specific to their situation, there are steps to be taken to make sure your loved one is safe and their condition is considered during times of severe weather.

 

Emergency Kit

Most Floridians know the essentials they’ll need if a hurricane hits—enough non-perishable food, bottled water, medications, and other necessities to last at least three days for each member of your household. However, those with special health concerns may have different requirements. Keep your loved one’s specific needs in mind and plan well in advance, not just when a storm is on the way.

A list of important items you may need in addition to those mentioned above may include:

  • Flashlights—especially bright if your loved one is visually impaired
  • Batteries—keep in mind the different sizes you may need—button-cell for hearing aids, for example
  • Toiletries and sanitary items—does your loved one need more than just the basics?
  • First-aid kit—again, consider more than the basics
  • Emergency contact numbers
  • Important documents—include copies of all prescriptions

These items should be stored in a water-proof container, preferably one that has wheels and can easily be moved in case evacuation is necessary. Be sure all supplies are not past their expiration date.

 

Have a Plan of Action

Even the safest homes often require some amount of preparation before a storm hits. Shutters may need to be put up, lawn furniture put away, etc. In the chaos of hurricane preparation, important tasks can be forgotten if a plan is not in place. Consider your loved one’s needs, and put them at the top of your storm prep To Do List. Designate important tasks to the members of your household so you know ahead of time that these things will be taken care of and your loved one’s needs met. Make a written list of who is responsible for which tasks, keep it in an easily visible place, and practice your plan periodically so that everyone is prepared.

Does your local hurricane shelter have facilities that will meet your loved one’s needs? Don’t hesitate to call and find out, even if no hurricane is on the horizon. If evacuation orders are issued, do you know where you’ll go and if the facilities are suitable for your loved one’s condition? As with supplies, plan ahead for the steps you’ll need to take to ensure everyone’s safety and well-being.

 

Consider the Details—Some Questions to Ask

  • Does your loved one need special equipment that requires electricity? Can it be operated with batteries or generator?
  • Does your loved one have a service animal? Do you have an emergency supply of food and water for them as well?
  • Can you get an extra few days worth of medications to have on hand if needed?
  • If power is out for an extended period of time, will medications be affected by hotter indoor temperatures? If so, what precautions can you take?
  • Even a relatively mild storm can cause power outages. Will your loved one’s condition be affected in the case that indoor temperatures are not controlled?
  • If your loved one uses a motorized wheelchair, do you have a backup power supply in case power is lost? Could he/she use a manual wheelchair as an alternative?
  • Does your loved one receive home care service? What is the caregiver’s severe weather plan? Can he/she help with your plan?

No one knows your loved one’s needs as well as you, and there is no time like the present to make sure you’re prepared for severe weather. Talk with your family about creating your emergency hurricane kit and create a plan of action together. Planning ahead means you are less likely to leave important details unnoticed.