hurricane signSeniors in Florida know what June 1st signals: the start of our five-month hurricane season.  Since 2004, weather patterns have suppressed the wind monsters and we have been lucky enough to proceed through summers with only the heat to bear.  This year, hurricane predictions are again modest, but the wise Florida senior will heed the calendar and formulate a plan.  In all cases, early preparation is the key to surviving a hurricane with as little discomfort as possible.  Florida Power & Light has created a comprehensive hurricane guide for seniors and hurricane plan template, which One Senior Place has synopsized for you below.

A hurricane watch or warning–

Hurricane warnings indicate that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are expected somewhere within the specified area. Warnings are issued 36 hours in advance of tropical-storm-force winds to allow for important preparation.

A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the specified area. A hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance.

Action –During a hurricane watch, review your plans in case a hurricane or tropical storm warning is issued. Monitor advisories closely. During a hurricane warning, complete your storm preparations and immediately leave the threatened area if directed by local officials.

Leave or Stay –

Well in advance of any storm, consider your options.  If a hurricane warning is issued, will you stay in your home or apartment, stay with friends or family, evacuate out of the threatened area or seek an appropriate shelter?  To know which of these choices is right for you, calmly consider the benefits of each, being mindful to alert family and neighbors of your decision.

Staying home:  Staying home is an option only if your home is prepared to withstand a hurricane and officials have not issued an evacuation order. Hurricane supplies such as battery powered radio and flashlights, food, drinking water and medications, collected in advance, should be brought with you to a glass-free interior “safe” room.

Staying with others: Call to discuss this in advance, to ensure they will be ready for you.  Make sure they understand your needs and create a backup plan in case they are out of town.  Bring your food, water, medicine and essential documents with you. If your loved one has dementia, ask for a separate room for the two of you.

Leaving the area: If you live in an evacuation zone and/or a mobile/manufactured home, you must leave.  The best idea is to leave early, before roadways clog up and stress mounts. Have a full tank of gas, a road map and a definite destination in mind. Make hotel reservations before you leave, as even distant hotels will fill up quickly with evacuees.  Prepare a checklist of essential items to bring with you, considering you may be away from home for up to a week.

Going to a nearby shelter: Most shelters do not allow pets, so ask your veterinarian NOW about boarding or local pet shelters in the event of a storm.  Prepare supplies to bring with you: important papers, food, water, medication and your cell phone and charger. Don’t forget clothes, snacks, personal hygiene supplies.  Check with your shelter officials ahead of time to determine there is sufficient space and ask whether you need to bring a sleeping bag or folding cot. Monitor the media for any updates.

Special Needs: if a loved one has dementia or other special needs, early planning is of the utmost importance.  Special Needs shelters require pre-registration and space is designated according to demonstrated need.  Contact your county Emergency Management office (Brevard 321-637-6670 / Seminole 407-665-5102) or call the Elder Helpline at 1-800-963-5337 for details on Special Needs shelters in your community.

What to do about pets –

Well ahead of time, identify “pet friendly” places for possible evacuation.  These might include friends, family, hotels, or veterinary clinics.  Pet carriers are essential, especially since animals cannot understand what is happening and can become easily upset.  Just as you will need essential items, so will your pet.  Consider food and water, kitty litter and pan, medication, food bowls, pet toys and cleaning supplies.  Don’t forget leashes and collars with current license identification and rabies tags securely attached. It is helpful to secure a plastic bag to the carrier with copies of shot records, a photo of the pet with you, and a contact list of additional friends/relatives.

Adequate supplies for a hurricane — Supplies for a hurricane will vary somewhat depending on the needs of the individual and the length of time they are required. Review the checklist and plan template in the Florida Power & Light comprehensive hurricane guide for seniors.  Of course, no single hurricane guide can contain everything you need.  Your local newspaper, favorite magazine or other media sources may provide additional guides and tips.  Start a file, collect your supplies and make your plan today.

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About One Senior Place– Now in its eighth year, One Senior Place is a marketplace of resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their family caregivers in Central and East Central Florida.  Completely unique, One Senior Place is a one-stop information and mini-mall “revolutionizing the way America shops for elder care and services.”  One Senior Place is home to a wide variety of senior-focused businesses, a resource library and is the site of daily events and activities for seniors.  In 2008, One Senior Place was named Florida’s Small Business of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration.  In Brevard, they were honored as the 2008 Business of the Year by the Melbourne Regional Chamber of Commerce.  More information about One Senior Place can be found on the company website at www.OneSeniorPlace.com or by calling 321-751-6771.

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