In the aftermath of a storm such as Sandy, we often think about how we can be better prepared in the event we should have a similar experience in the future. Winter is also coming and that could mean blizzards, especially here in New England. One of the most important things is making sure ourselves and our family stay safe and out of harm’s way. When caring for elderly parents or relatives with an illness or disability their safety is a big concern. Mobility can be an issue, and if they live alone that can be another worry. The best option is to be prepared and get them to a safe place ahead of time. In the event they must stay in their home, with or without you, it is important to follow safety guidelines.
One concern during a storm that could cause potential power outages is food safety. This is especially a concern for seniors who need to maintain a healthy diet and may have other health issues that require certain foods to be consumed or restricted. Steps must be taken to ensure their food supply is safe.
Remember, refrigerators should register at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, and freezers should be 0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Freezing any foods not immediately needed can help them remain at a safe temperature longer. A refrigerator will maintain its temperature for up to 4 hours, but a freezer will keep for 48 hours, provided the doors stay closed. A half-full freezer will keep its temperature for only 24 hours, so keep the freezer tightly packed. It will stay colder longer.
Store food and any other items that come in contact with food, or your mouth, (wooden cutting boards, plastic utensils, baby items) away from flood water. Remove them from bottom shelves and cabinets and get them up high. Flood water is not clean. If it comes in contact with flood water sanitize it or throw it away!
The most important piece of advice is, “When in doubt, throw it out.” Make sure seniors know this. The chance of illness is not worth it, and you probably have other concerns to deal with in a storm situation. Feeling sick, or having a loved one to care for who is sick, will not help you.
Aside from food safety concerns, there should be a supply of flashlights, batteries, a radio, cell phone and first aid kit. Have a planned evacuation strategy should it be needed and make sure everyone knows it. Make sure your loved one has a list of medications and doses, along with an insurance card and ID. Keeping a list of family members’ names, addresses and phone numbers is also a good idea. Create a kit with these things for a senior if they live alone, and even if they live with you in case they should get separated in an emergency.
There is an abundance of resources and checklists on storm preparedness than can be found online. Use them and discuss the plans with seniors regularly to make sure they will be ready. As leaders in Maine home health care, MAS Home Care wants to ensure all their clients around New England stay safe throughout all storms and other natural disasters.
MAS Home Care of Maine (Portland-Lewiston areas)
21 Saco Street
Westbrook, ME 04092
MAS Home Care of Maine (Bangor-Machias areas)
360 Harlow Street
Bangor, ME 04401
MAS Home Care provides home care throughout Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.