Helping Your Loved One Prepare for Hurricane Season in Louisiana

Well, it’s about that time, folks!  The relentless heat has lingered around long enough that the Gulf water temperatures are now somewhere between that of a bathtub and a hot tub, creating a breeding pool for hurricanes.  Like a lion stalking its prey, the local meteorologists are just waiting to pounce on the next system to develop.  Only time will tell if another Ida, Katrina, Betsy, or Andrew will actually form. Still, in the interim, it is essential to properly prepare your senior loved one for what could potentially be heading their way.

As with anything else, if we fail to prepare, we can prepare to fail.  Hurricane season is no different.  A well-devised plan of action and an adequately prepared emergency kit can give your loved one and you the peace of mind needed to approach a threatening storm successfully. 

Creating an Emergency Kit

Having all your necessary items gathered together in one location is essential to successfully preparing.  Doing this before a storm is on the horizon allows you to collect your essentials with a clear mind and well-stocked grocery shelves.  Once an impending storm threatens the area, everyone is sent into a tailspin, and the shelves are wiped clean.  Below is a list of items you should include in your emergency kit.

  • Flashlight – Have it ready to go during a power outage.  Keep a supply of spare batteries to replenish as needed.  
  • Food and water – Stock up on nonperishable food options and water to last you for at least three days.  Canned meats, nut butter, canned fruits and vegetables, snack crackers, canned soups, jerky, and protein bars are just a few of the recommended items to keep on hand.  
  • Can opener – This is an often overlooked item that really comes in handy.  Without it, many of your nonperishable food items can not be utilized.
  • Paper goods – Stock enough paper plates, bowls, napkins, and cups to serve your meals on.  
  • Medical Documents – In the event of long-term power outages, critical medical documents may be unable to be accessed.  Keep a copy of your vital information and your physicians’ names and phone numbers to reference, if needed.  Additionally, it’s helpful to keep a list of your medications and dosing information.  Finally, be sure to note any medical equipment, manufacturer, and serial numbers for easy reference.
  • Other vital documents – Aside from your medical information, keep a copy of your driver’s license, social security card, birth and marriage certificates, and your will.  All paper documents should be kept in a waterproof bag within your emergency kit. 
  • Medications – Have a two-week supply of your medications on hand.  Refill medications as needed before a storm.
  • Radio –  A battery-powered radio will help you to stay informed before, during, and after a hurricane.  As mentioned earlier, be sure to have extra batteries on hand. 

Creating a Plan

Having an emergency kit ready to go is only half of the preparation; now, it’s time to make a plan.  Much like preparing your kit, you should also discuss your plans before a storm is on the horizon.  Again, this allows you to think with a clear and calm mind so that your plan is well thought out.  Have your elderly loved one involved in the planning process, if possible.

Begin by selecting a point person who will serve as the point of contact before, during, and after the storm.  This individual, whether a neighbor, family member, caregiver, close friend, or other chosen person, will be responsible for checking in on the senior and assisting them in executing the plan.  Be sure to post this person’s name and contact information in a prominent location where it can be easily accessed. 

The contact person and any other care team members will help their loved ones stay informed of any new developments that may surface. Assisting the senior in understanding the storm’s severity, evacuation or shelter plans, and local government recommendations is critical to the planning process.

Finally, set guidelines to determine when it’s best to stay and shelter in place or when it’s necessary to pack up and evacuate.  If your loved one lives in a senior living facility, discuss emergency plans specifically for a storm; plan accordingly.  If you choose to leave, bring along all necessary documents, medications, medical equipment, clothing, etc.  Additionally, plan your evacuation route to reduce or eliminate potential mishaps.  If traveling is not a feasible option, look into local shelters that will be able to meet their medical needs.      

Having well-established plans and procedures will help to reduce stress, anxiety, and last-minute decisions during a moment of crisis. Take the time to properly prepare for hurricane season before it’s too late.