As people in North Carolina continue to evacuate and Virginians here do their best to prepare for when the impact of it reaches our state, the very real threat of Hurricane Florence is understandably a serious and growing concern. Adult children and family caregivers in the area as well as outside it no doubt find themselves feeling more than a little anxious about their senior loved one’s safety during this time... and with good reason!

Older adults are exceptionally vulnerable to Mother Nature’s wrath. Emergency preparedness for seniors can mean the difference between life and death. From blizzards to hurricanes, disaster planning for the elderly is an absolute must, especially for families who are separated by many miles and unable to be their elderly loved one's first line of defense in a storm. Our office, since the news of Florence came to our attention, has been working closely with our Life Care Planning clients to make sure that they are as prepared as possible for the uncertainty of what lies ahead.

Courtesy of The American Red Cross, here is a quick list of questions to consider that your hurricane plan for yourself and your elderly loved ones should clearly address:

(1) What do I need to do to secure my home? Where will I get the supplies to do so?

(2) Who will help me prepare my home before a storm?

(3) If my home isn’t safe or if it becomes part of a forced evacuation zone, where will I go and how will I get there?

(4) What will happen to my pet? Is there a shelter near me that will accept pets?

(5) What items do I need to have ready to go if I am forced to evacuate (i.e. medications and supplies)?

(6) Who can I call if I am overwhelmed and need help?

It’s important for seniors and their loved ones to be prepared. In addition to securing trashcans and outside furniture, a storm-safe shelter in a senior’s home should be stocked with the supplies and food items necessary to ride out the storm and a few extra days. Make sure they have at least two weeks of all medications on hand including supplies needed for diabetes care and other health conditions. Stock up on non-perishable food items and water, as well as a can opener and paper products. Make sure you have a cooler or two with ice and bottled water. Check your first aid kit to see if it needs restocking and that it includes sunscreen and bug spray. Have a pet carrier, pet food and medicine and supplies in an easy to access location. Create a storm box that includes a battery-operated weather radio, several flashlights, a cell phone charger and extra batteries for all. Stash extra pillows, blankets and possibly even an air mattress in a safe space.  Be sure to place copies of important medical, legal and financial papers in a secure, waterproof, durable container.

Hurricanes are strong storms that can be life-threatening as well as cause serious hazards such as flooding, storm surge, high winds and tornadoes. Learn what to do to keep your loved ones safe and be careful out there!