Spring is severe weather season in Alabama, so it is a good idea to have a plan to keep yourself and loved ones safe, particularly if they are elderly. There are several things to consider in planning; including what to do in the event of power outages, communication, health conditions, and location. Having a weather radio is the best way to get weather warnings, but television and social media can also help alert people to severe weather events.
In case the power goes out, elderly people need to have a battery powered light source like a flashlight or tap lights. Having a light source helps prevent falls and makes it easier to locate essential items and information. A flashlight can also alert first responders to someone’s location if there is damage to the home. Does your senior rely on a home medical device powered by energy? As soon as an essential medical device is put in service in the home, the local electric utility (and sometimes other authorities) should be notified of its existence and need. This can put your loved one on a list for immediate attention during a power outage.
Communication is essential during a severe weather event. Elderly people especially need a cell phone for emergency situations and a list of phone numbers for utility companies including power, gas, and water. Also include emergency numbers such as the fire department, police, doctor, and home care provider. Quick access to these phone numbers is crucial. Emergency contacts should be programmed into the cell phone. This list should include at least one out-of-state contact who can assist if nearby friends and relatives are unable to help. Cell phones can also be used to receive weather alerts from local agencies.
If a severe weather event is suspected, make sure to have enough medication on hand to get through a couple days during an emergency. This preparation is especially important for seniors who take daily medications. Medications can be part of an emergency supply kit with bottled water, easy to open non-perishable foods, cash, batteries, bandages, etc. The emergency supply kit should be portable in case there is a need for evacuation.
Having an evacuation plan is helpful. Be aware of the location of storm shelters in the area. For elderly people who do not drive, it’s a good idea to have a designated friend or family member to provide transportation to a storm shelter or other safe place. No one should ever shelter in a mobile home during a severe weather event.
There's really no way to avoid severe weather when it occurs. Being prepared and having a safety plan is the best thing anyone can do. Stay advised of weather events, be smart, and stay safe.