Hurricane season has made its entrance again.
Individuals who are caring for loved ones must
plan as far ahead as possible. Regardless
of how many hurricane seasons weathered, current
knowledge is literally a lifesaver.
The season lasts from June 1st to November 30th.
Longtime residents living along the Atlantic and
Gulf coasts have the dates memorized, but even
those who have been through many cycles should
look at each season individually.
If you are in an evacuation zone, your supplies
should be portable and manageable.
Depending on the health condition of your loved
one, you may already have information on where
to go. Ventilator dependent patients who
must go through storms at the hospital must find
out which supplies they have to bring.
Supplies like gauze pads and other day-to-day
items may not be available, since it is not a
regular admission. Loved ones who are told
to go to the hospital may only be kept for the
duration of the storm. Other facilities
will have to be found if a home cannot be
returned to immediately.
Time spent in shelters can be trying, especially
for caregivers who have loved ones who are
memory challenged. Having items that will
entertain your loved one will help. In
addition, consider “making friends” with as many
people as possible to divert both of you.
If the loved one has hearing difficulty, bring
earbuds or headphones along to allow higher
volumes to be used. Shelters can be filled
to capacity with a variety of people who are
used to different schedules. Even a
hurricane cannot deter them from their routines.
Patience and tolerance can be your most
frequently used “supplies” at a shelter.
Special needs shelters are determined by the
county, and registration is also required.
As with any shelter, taking along all
medications is a must. Prepare a list of
medications, dosages and other medical facts
like allergies and have it laminated. The
list can be kept with the medications for quick
reference if needed.
Most special needs shelters require everyone to
bring their own supplies, including bedding.
Arrive as soon as you are aware you must
evacuate to a shelter rather than wait until the
last minute. The storm determines when
transportation to the shelter or hospital is
shut down. Having supplies packed and
ready to go will allow you to leave immediately.
Therapy pets are allowed in special needs
shelters, but not household pets. If your
loved one cannot be separated from their pet,
speak to your local Humane Society about
qualifying them as a therapy pet. Last
minute arguing with shelters or loved ones may
keep everyone in an unsafe situation.
Storms can turn on a dime, as we saw with
Hurricane Andrew. They can also appear to
“last forever” as Hurricane Wilma did.
Everything you do to prepare is an investment in
ITEMS ON HAND
Take a look at your
pantry. People who are not accustomed to
canned food will keep little of it around.
The familiar hurricane phrase “We’ll just eat
sandwiches” is unrealistic. By the time
the storm is over, everyone will look for meals
to return to normal. If power is on, it’s
not a problem. When there’s no power,
caregivers must use a creative hand to keep
themselves happy and distressed while feeding
Consider adding a canned dish to meal offerings
before it is necessary to use them. Corned
beef hash, canned chicken or tuna and other
“hurricane foods” as a temporary part of normal
diet will help everyone get used to them.
This cuts down on those refusing to eat until
the power goes on. Every couple of weeks,
have a “hurricane meal night.” It can help
keep the season in the “memory loop” of all
concerned, but still be a fun experience.
Caregivers will be able to determine which types
and brands of canned goods will be eaten by
EXTRA HINTS FOR CAREGIVERS
Consider purchasing caregiver and loved one
medallions from the Alzheimer’s Association to
wear in the event of emergency. You may do
everything you can to avoid separation from your
loved one, but the information that can be
obtained via the service’s 800 number is a
Precautions are taken in shelter facilities to
ensure safety for everyone. However,
keeping valuables out of sight and on your
person is the first safety measure. A
checklist of the items you are carrying will
prevent you from worrying about loss, but the
list should remain in your possession at all
Examine whether a safety deposit box would be a
useful investment versus a “home safe.”
Papers and other valuables should be plastic
sealed in either case.
Websites and printed information on quantities
of food and water are excellent guidelines.
You can overstock if you choose, but keep the
recommended amounts on hand until the season is
fully over. To prevent expiration, rotate
your supplies within hurricane season.
Don’t wait until the last minute to check and
buy batteries or any other items. If you
need to make a last minute trip to the store,
focus on items that will keep. Buying
perishable foods when a storm is imminent will
waste money and food reserves if the power goes
out. Although you may buy a gallon of ice
cream for the “lights out party,” make sure you
have non-perishable fun foods when the fridge
should be kept closed.
Thinking ahead will offer you a sense of comfort and
give your loved one a feeling of security.