5 Most Overlooked Special Safety Needs in a Hurricane

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When preparing for a hurricane, there are many situations that require special considerations and planning.

Here are extra precautions to take for special needs situations, including care for medications, disability, seniors, children and pets:

MEDICATIONS

1. Emergency storage and procedures

Keep a supply of up-to-date medications for at least a week in your hurricane preparedness kit. Make sure to store them in waterproof containers. Ask your doctor for additional information about safe storage in emergencies for your particular medication. Discard any medications that may have come in contact with hurricane water.

For temperature-sensitive items like insulin, try to keep it as cool as possible by avoiding direct heat, such as sunlight. If you’re using ice, don’t place the medication directly on the ice to avoid freezing. Once you have access to medicine that has been properly stored, discard what you have and replenish your supply.

For temperature-sensitive items like vaccines, blood products and biologics, note the time and temperature of refrigerators and freezers when the power goes out, and check again when it is restored. Turn fridge temperatures down once you get the storm warning, and keep doors closed to keep as much cool air inside as possible.

2. What to pack:

  • Medications and the supplies needed to administer them. (Include any regular testing supplies as well, as you don’t know how long the emergency situation will last.)
  • Copies of your prescription
  • Doctor’s and pharmacist’s contact information
  • A copy of your insurance card
  • Copies of manuals for any medical equipment you have
  • A thorough identification of your needs you can wear on your person, like a bracelet
  • A record book to keep track of any results, relevant side-effects or changes

DISABLITIES

If you are or are caring for a disabled person in the event of a hurricane emergency, plan ahead. Make sure you can be alerted of a hurricane emergency promptly and updated regularly, if the regular means of information are not accessible to you.

Create a network of reliable assistance; don’t work alone if you can get help. Don’t rely on just 1 person; have backup help ready. Make sure you can communicate with your network easily and effectively, from home, work, or during travel. (This can mean using a device that can be heard over top of emergency sirens and alarms, or that allows a direct line to help.) If you’re traveling, contact resources in the area ahead of time. Have a backup in case phone lines are down.

Keep information about your special needs with you at all times, and make sure your needs are easily identifiable should you become unable to communicate with people around you.

Preparedness:

  • Learn basic care for emergency situations, including first-aid
  • Consider keeping backup medical or mobility equipment at a friend or family member’s home.
  • When planning your preparedness kit, be sure to include any medications and tools that you might potentially need. Talk to your doctor to create a plan.
  • Keep user manuals handy for special equipment
  • Plan for getting around during and after the hurricane. Plan easy exit routes for every situation. Make sure transportation that supports your needs is available, whether you need to plan for pickup from friends or family or a local disaster aid organization. Make sure you take shelter somewhere where you will have assistance or be able to get around, even if debris is littered around the area.
  • For wheelchair users, have a non-electric chair handy

CHILDREN

Children and babies will require extra care and supplies during a hurricane. For children old enough, be sure to prepare them with hurricane safety information. Remember to pack emergency kits for each child, including:

  • Formula, baby food or special dietary needs
  • Bottles
  • Powdered Milk
  • Diapers
  • Baby Wipes
  • Diaper rash ointment
  • A pacifier and a few calming toys

ELDERLY

1. Plan ahead for senior needs.

If you have an elderly member of the family who may need special care, plan ahead. Local organizations can provide help, and be sure to alert friends and neighbors if you might need assistance. Ask your doctor for prescriptions for any regular medications, and any emergency medications that might help with anxiety or sleep. You can also pre-alert or register with the Special Needs Program through local shelters. For information about the Special Needs Program near you, call the Elder Helpline at 1-800-963-5337.

Keep in mind that your loved one might be confused, and continue to reassure them. Try to remain calm so you don’t scare them. For those with dementia and Alzheimer’s, be sure they are wearing a contact information bracelet in case they are separated. Keep an additional list of contact numbers for assistance.

2. Pack essentials:

  • Something to distract your loved one, like photo books or puzzles and comfort foods and snacks.
  • Keep battery-powered lanterns, which will keep rooms brighter to reduce shadows.
  • If you go to a shelter, try to find a quiet corner away from exits they could easily wander toward.

PETS:

1. Plan pet care

Include your pet in emergency planning. Find local pet shelters, emergency shelters, boarding facilities and veterinarians that will allow pets in emergency situations. Ask about specific emergency policies at local hotels, and keep a list of those where you will be able to take your pet. Ask friends and family who might be able to shelter your pet.

2. Pack essentials

Keep an extra preparedness kit with supplies for your pet in case you need to evacuate:

  • 7-day supply of food and water
  • Water and food bowls
  • Pet carrier or crate
  • Any pet medications
  • Pet first-aid kit
  • A leash and harness
  • Photo (in case of separation)
  • Litter and box for cats
  • Soft pet bed
  • Toys

What measures have you taken to be prepared for a hurricane? What do you still need to do?