The onset of winter-like weather requires a resetting of the preparedness refresh button for millions of elderly Americans and those with physical, medical, sensory or cognitive disabilities. Extreme cold and harsh winter storms can dramatically increase the daily hardships and day to day survival challenges for this population.
With temperatures dropping and snowflakes beginning to fall, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says that now is the time to take a few easy steps to prepare for emergencies.
FEMA officials urge seniors and people with disabilities to:
- Make prior arrangements with your physician or check with your oxygen supplier about emergency plans for those on respirators or other electric powered medical equipment.
- Plan now to have electrical backup for medical equipment.
- Develop a back-up communications plan in case land lines are disrupted by having a charged cell phone or a pager.
- Maintain a two-week supply of medications, both prescription and non-prescription.
- Have copies of your medical records, prescriptions and medical needs readily available.
- Plan now to have accessible transportation in case of evacuation.
- Have contact lenses, extra eyeglasses and batteries for hearing aids ready to go.
- Include your service animals and pets in your plans.
- Think ahead about neighborhood shelters that can accommodate the needs of seniors and the disabled.
FEMA also recommends that people with special needs develop and stay in touch with a nearby network of assistance before winter storms or record cold move in. It’s important for neighbors, relatives, care attendants, friends and coworkers to be part of your care and communications circle. Never depend on one person alone.
Severe winter weather including snow, subfreezing temperatures, strong winds, ice or even heavy rain requires planning ahead.
FEMA recommends an emergency supply kit that includes:
- A battery or hand crank powered radio, extra flashlights and batteries, and at minimum a week’s supply of food and water.
- Adequate clothing and blankets for warmth.
- First Aid Supplies.
Finally, it’s important to understand the terms of declining weather and pending winter storms.
- A winter weather advisory means that cold, ice and snow are expected.
- A winter storm watch means severe weather such as heavy snow or ice is possible in the next day or two.
- A winter storm warning means that severe winter conditions have begun or will begin very soon.
Remember that planning ahead, assembling an emergency supply kit, staying informed and keeping those in your circle informed about you are the best ways to stay safe through the uncertain days of winter.