How to Protect Seniors During Dangerous Weather Conditions
The year 2013 has brought wild and unpredictable weather, ranging from abnormal amounts of driving rains and fierce winds, to hurricanes and tornadoes in areas not normally known to receive so many. For most people, these weather conditions would usually prove to be no more than minor inconveniences, disrupting their lives but not for long as they rebound quickly. But for seniors, however, they’re not able to react and recover quite as quickly.
If your senior lives in an area where inclement weather is typical and expected, such as Florida or Oklahoma, the first and safest thing to do is practice over and over again what to do in a weather emergency. The United States’ National Weather Service has a PDF section on their website that lists what to expect and what to do in a variety of weather situations, while the United States Government has a page with general resources and guides and FEMA offers handy tips on how to build a basic disaster supplies kit.
Riding it Out or Evacuating
If evacuating their home during a storm isn’t possible, your senior should stay inside and keep away from windows. Electricity should only be used when absolutely necessary, with outdoor electrical accessories like cords or chargers brought inside.
However, if the storm is severe enough that staying at home poses an imminent threat, evacuation may be necessary. Depending on if your senior lives by themselves or at a facility, different procedures will be undertaken, e.g. transportation by ambulance versus driving themselves. Extra care should be taken on roads, as rain and snow can cause extreme hazards.
- Have winter tires put on if your senior lives in a snowy climate
- Ensure all headlights, brakelights and foglights are working
- Keep the car well-stocked on fluids like windshield washer, brake fluid, oil and antifreeze
- Stock the car with blankets, flashlights, and other emergency preparedness items
To learn more about how to drive safely in extreme weather conditions, visit AAA.
Extreme heat can pose a serious safety risk to seniors, as their bodies aren’t able to regulate internal body temperatures as efficiently as younger adults. And when a heat wave hits, seniors are one of the key age groups most at risk. To ensure you senior stays safe during a heat wave, do the following:
- Make sure they have access to an air-conditioned area, such as a recreation center or cooling center
- Keep them out of the sun, as temperatures there can be many degrees hotter
- Have plenty of water on hand, with some used to douse hand towels in so they can be applied to arterial spots on the body (e.g. armpit, neck, groin, etc.)
- Help them avoid alcohol and caffeine, as both can quickly dehydrate a body faster than it can be hydrated
For more tips, visit the National Weather Service for greater detail on how to keep your senior safe during a heat wave.