Don’t forget your pets in a snow emergency!
Don’t forget your older seniors and elderly family members when a winter storm is predicted, especially when the weather bureau is saying words like “epic” and “historic” and “major”. There isn’t always a lot of time to prepare, but if you have teenagers of driving age in the family they can help out too. Send them off to grandma/grandpa’s house with a list of things to do if you don’t have the time.
First of all major snow storms often cause electric outages. The main problem here is that in general, the elderly need to stay warmer, usually they shouldn’t let their home fall below 70 degrees. Their bodies just can’t adjust to temperatures like they used to when younger and they can very quickly develop Hypothermia, a serious medical condition. So, what do you do when the power outages are predicted?
1. Make sure they have heavy blankets, especially down covers because they provide a lot of warmth without a lot of weight. Make sure the down or other heavy blankets are NOT on a high shelf requiring them to get on a chair or ladder to retrieve them. Get them down for them and put them on the bed.
2. The body loses heat through the head, and lots of elderly heads have lost quite a bit of hair as well so there isn’t much protection there. It would be helpful to give them a ski cap type of head covering to wear in the house and to bed to keep their body warmth in.
3. If they have cell phones and cordless phones, make sure they are on the charger and getting fully charged. Today we have additional chargers for cell phones that can be kept in a pocket or purse for extra power as needed. Make sure it is fully charged up. If the electricity is out for several days, the cell phone and cordless phone could run down as well. These chargers can be purchased at most big box stores for as little as $15.00 in many areas – great for weather emergencies. This is the time when some people might wish they had a land-line phone, because their electricity comes from the telephone lines and they don’t have to be charged.
4. Flashlights and extra batteries – make sure the flashlight works and there are plenty of fresh batteries.
5. Water – make sure they have several gallons of water on hand. If laundry is piling up get it done before the electricity is lost.
6. Food – choose foods that don’t have to be cooked. Have tuna on hand, crackers, bread, peanut butter, fruit, raw carrots, canned milk, Carnation instant milk (or other brands) cans of Ensure or other similar drinks, dry cereals, granola bars, breakfast bars, bagels for example.
7. Make sure they have enough of their prescription medications on hand – if they run out they may not be able to get to a pharmacy during a winter storm emergency. Make sure they also have baby aspirin, just in case there are symptoms of a heart attack and their doctor tells them to take it while waiting for an emergency vehicle, and it could be a long wait in a storm emergency.
8. Take a look around for trip hazards in the home, you definitely don’t want a fall to occur. Snow emergencies are a bad time to need an ambulance, and difficult for family members to come over to provide assistance.
9. If possible elderly family members might be better off staying with family members for their own safety during a severe snow emergency.
10. Lastly, if the household includes a pet(s) – don’t forget pet food