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Storm Preparedness for Seniors: How to Stay Safe in Wild Weather

Getting caught in an intense storm can be a frightening situation. By planning ahead and exercising common sense, however, you can stay safe and have peace of mind when a severe weather event happens.

Having enough nonperishable food and water as well as an evacuation plan is a must. Here are some additional strategies to help seniors stay safe in extreme weather.

Hurricane Safety for Senior Citizens

Hurricanes are a significant concern every year for residents of the southeastern United States. Capable of producing heavy flooding and destructive winds, the strongest hurricanes can destroy homes and present serious risks to those unfortunate enough to get caught in the storm. Meteorologists begin tracking hurricanes and tropical storms when they are detected on satellite imagery, sometimes weeks before they make landfall. It is important to take advantage of this advance notice and prepare.

Seniors faced with an impending hurricane should stay informed of any guidance or instructions given by local officials. Depending on the severity of the event, officials may order evacuations. Plan out what roads you would take to leave the area and where you would stay ahead of time. Emergencies often result in unexpected delays, so factor extra time into your plans. Gathering supplies could take longer due to shortages at local stores, and evacuation times can take longer due to traffic backups.

If you must shelter in place, make sure your home is ready to wait out a storm. Experts recommend having a week’s worth of supplies on hand. You should keep nonperishable foods, batteries, medical supplies and prescription medicines in an easily accessible storm preparedness kit.

A home generator can be a lifesaver for seniors caught in a hurricane, especially if you have any medical equipment that depends on a power supply. Home generators are available at a variety of price points. Standby home generators are the most expensive option. They are powered by natural gas or liquid propane, and they are permanently wired into your home’s electrical system. Standby generators provide nearly immediate power after an outage. Portable generators are usually powered by gasoline or diesel fuel. They are smaller and more affordable than standby generators, but they have a smaller electrical output and can be difficult to hook up in a storm.

Never run a generator indoors to avoid risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, which can result in death.

Florida Nursing Home and Assisted Living Generator Law

Some jurisdictions mandate that standby generators are installed in senior living facilities and nursing homes to guarantee that indoor living conditions remain stable in the event of a facility power loss. Chapter 59 of the Florida Administrative Code requires that “nursing homes will be equipped to ensure the protection of resident health, safety, welfare and comfort for a minimum of ninety-six (96) hours in the event of the loss of primary electrical power. Safe indoor air temperatures in resident-occupied areas shall be determined by the licensee to meet the clinical needs of residents but shall not exceed eighty-one (81) degrees Fahrenheit.”

Check this list to see if a nursing home or assisted living facility is in compliance with the Florida generator rule.

Flood Safety for Seniors

Heavy rainfall from storms can also cause flooding. Low-lying areas—especially those near a body of water—are often at risk of flooding. When a storm could potentially cause flooding, authorities may order evacuations from areas that may be affected. It can be difficult to predict sudden “flash floods” though. If you know the area you live in might be affected, it’s good to have a plan in place. Be aware of local evacuation plans for your area. Keep extra supplies on hand knowing that it might be days or weeks before help arrives. Make sure your essential supplies are kept on a main floor and not in a basement, which would become inaccessible in a flood.


Tornado Safety for Seniors

Tornadoes are among the most feared weather events in the United States, especially in the Midwest. Tornadoes often appear with little warning, meaning that you might have to make critical decisions in a matter of minutes.

Anyone caught in a tornado should immediately head to a basement area if possible. In many municipalities, mobile home parks are required to have underground storm shelters. If getting to a basement is not possible, get to the lowest point in the home and stay away from windows, glass objects and unsecured furniture.

Once sheltered, find something to protect your head, neck and back. Remain low to the ground and wait for the tornado to pass. Stay aware of tornado sirens, and only resume movement once the sirens stop and the storm is clear. After a tornado, avoid any areas that could possibly have downed power lines, and report any that you see to your electrical service provider.

Tornadoes can damage utilities and broadcast towers, making it difficult to get information after the event. A portable weather radio is a great investment if you live in a storm-prone area. Keep it in the area where you plan on sheltering, along with your other supplies. Weather radios are available at a variety of price points, but even the least expensive ones will give you valuable information about storms in your area.

Senior Living: A Shelter from the Storm

As a senior considering safety during an intense storm, a great option is to move into a senior living community. These communities typically consist of sturdy structures built to withstand high winds and adhere to strict codes and regulations that ensure the safety of the inhabitants during big storms. If you are concerned about your safety and/or preparedness for a big storm, a recently built facility may be the best bastion to ensure your wellbeing and peace of mind if severe weather is on its way.


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