Severe weather patterns seem to become increasingly more forceful and dangerous with each passing year. From wildfires in the West to hurricanes across much of the South and East to tornadoes in the Midwest, very few parts of the country have been spared from these natural disasters.
What are the best ways for seniors to stay safe during severe weather occurrences? We’ve rounded up some helpful tips from our caregivers who have lived through a disaster to help you remain calm and prepared should a weather emergency occur in your area.
Before a Hurricane: Pick Up Extra Essentials
When the forecast calls for a hurricane, make sure to stock up on necessities, like food, water, batteries and toilet paper, before the storm hits.
Experts from the National Hurricane Survival Initiative suggest running out to do your shopping early before the rush to avoid the panic and bare shelves. Some must-haves on their shopping list include a three-day supply of the following:
- Bottled water
- Nonperishable, ready-to-eat canned fruits and vegetables
- High-energy foods, such as protein bars
- First aid kit
- Extra prescription medication
- Flashlights (one per person)
- Replacement batteries for each flashlight
Of course, there are other items you may want to add to this list, such as favorite comfort foods. Keep in mind, however, that if you lose power for an extended period of time, you won’t have access to refrigeration or a microwave, so be sure to stock up on mostly nonperishable items.
During Wildfires: Keep a Bag Packed for a Quick Exit
Experts with the Department of Homeland Security’s Disasters and Emergencies recommend becoming familiar with your community’s evacuation plans and having several different routes to leave the area should wildfires strike close to home. Additionally, they recommend:
- Keeping emergency supplies, including N95 respirator masks to help you breathe, in a place that is easy to access.
- Placing all important documents in a fireproof place and considering having digital copies made, just in case.
- Creating a plan for any pets or livestock on the property.
- Evacuating as soon as you receive orders to do so. If you are trapped at your location, call 911 and turn your lights on to help rescuers find you.
In order to quickly leave if you have to evacuate, it’s a good idea to have a to-go bag that is prepackaged with items you would need should you be unable to return home. This will save you precious minutes and possibly even your life should you need to act fast to avoid the flames.
Tornado Warning: Think Fast and Stay Away from Windows
Since tornadoes can come and go pretty quickly, the National Weather Service recommends following the local weather in your neighborhood to stay up to date about any tornado watches and warnings. If you live in an area that is prone to tornadoes, you can do the following to prepare for potential disasters:
- Create a communication plan with your family to agree upon what to do should a tornado hit your area. This could include determining an emergency meeting place, or knowing which shelter is closest to your home should you need it.
- Pick a room in your home that is the safest, such as a basement, storm cellar or interior room on the lowest floor without windows.
- Know what tornadoes look like so you can make a sound decision even if you miss the warning. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, they typically have “a rotating funnel-shaped cloud, an approaching cloud of debris, or a loud roar similar to a freight train.”
If you are indoors when the tornado warning is issued, stay away from windows and doors to avoid potential injuries from broken windows and debris flying through your home. If you are outside or in a vehicle when the tornado warning is issued, get yourself to the nearest shelter as soon as possible.