In the wake of Hurricane Florence, where entire cities were evacuated in North and South Carolina, it makes sense to think about how you might take care of your elderly loved ones, in the event of a natural disaster. Those individuals with reduced mobility are more prone to injury and death than the more able-bodied. Therefore, it’s important to be proactive in keeping them safe.
History Paints a Bleak Picture
Senior citizens are more likely to die in wildfires, hurricanes, heat waves, tornadoes, and other natural disasters. Not only are they more sensitive to environmental factors, they often don’t have the mobility or automobiles to escape the situation.
- Hurricane Katrina – of the 986 people who died during Hurricane Katrina, the mean age was 69. Approximately 2/3 were over the age of 65 – many of whom died in nursing homes during or after the storm.
- Hollywood Hills Heat Wave – The summer of 2017 in Florida claimed the lives of 12 nursing home residents, when the air conditioning unit failed and residents were not evacuated.
How Can You Protect Your Elderly Loved One?
Having a plan in advance of a natural disaster, can mean the difference between life and death. Here are some things to consider:
- If your loved one is in a facility, ask to see their disaster plans. Ask questions to determine, if the staff are aware of the plan and what any contingencies may be.
- Discuss shelter-in-place options vs. evacuation options. Sometimes, it’s best to stay put.
- Work with family members on evacuation plans.
- Locate local emergency facilities to take a loved one, in the event that life-supporting electricity is unavailable.
- Find alternative dialysis centers, in the event of a long-term disaster. Remember, it’s not just the initial event you must consider, but the longer-term aftermath.
- Locate shelters that may require advance reservations – make those reservations.
- Make a medical plan that includes medical history, doctor/facility names and contact information, prescriptions, dosages and current treatments.
- Prepare a disaster kit with enough supplies to last at least 72-hours.
- Make your loved one’s home storm-ready, including alternative power supplies.
Being proactive is key to protecting your elderly loved ones. Enlist the support of friends and family in ensuring that your loved ones are taken care of in advance of a natural disaster.
CBS.com - Senior citizens evacuate South Carolina due to Hurricane Florence (Accessed September 15, 2018) http://www.cbs46.com/story/39088420/senior-citizens-evacuate-south-carolina-due-to-hurricane-florence#ixzz5RCgAEdq9
Scientific American - Health Officials Rush to Protect Seniors, the Most Vulnerable Group, from Hurricane Florence (Accessed September 15, 2018) https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/health-officials-rush-to-protect-seniors-the-most-vulnerable-group-from-hurricane-florence/
Property Casual 360 - Keep older adults safe in natural disasters with these 7 tips (Accessed September 15, 2018) https://www.propertycasualty360.com/2017/09/08/keep-older-adults-safe-in-natural-disasters-with-t/?slreturn=20180815163130