Hurricane season begins June 1 and preparations can take a little longer and require a bit more attention to detail for older adults and their caregivers, said UF’s Linda Bobroff, a family, youth and community sciences professor who helped update a guide that outlines exactly how to become prepared. Bobroff, who specializes in food and nutrition, is part of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
The guide, called Disaster Planning Tips for Older Adults, is available at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy620.
The guide is intended for anyone planning for disaster, but includes special recommendations that apply especially to older adults.
For example, the guide notes that everyone in hurricane-prone areas needs, ideally, a two-week supply of drinking water — one gallon per person, per day, and even more if you have pets.
The guide notes that because older adults become dehydrated more easily, it’s a good idea to store more water than recommended. It also suggests that planners make sure that the jugs aren’t too heavy. For those who choose not to buy storage containers or bottled water, a sanitized two-liter plastic soda bottle might be a better option than gallon jugs. Caps should be easily removed by someone with arthritis.
Everyone needs a three- to five-day nonperishable food supply, the guide says, but for older adults, dietary needs such as low sodium or high fiber foods should be considered. Smaller cans of food that can be eaten at one meal or as a snack are helpful, because older adults are more vulnerable to foodborne illness. Ensuring that you have a can opener an older person can easily operate is a lifesaver, the guide suggests.
It’s vital for families to talk about disaster scenarios well before they happen, Bobroff said, because if a family has already decided what to do in an emergency, it can save precious time that would otherwise be spent debating whether or not to go and haggling over what to bring.
“You have to talk about it,” she said. “Just knowing that if the roof blows off, or if we start to get flooded, we’re leaving — having the plan already mapped out helps.”
Carolyn Wilken, a UF associate professor emeritus, and Emily Minton, program coordinator for UF’s Elder Nutrition and Food Safety Program, also contributed to the update.
For more information on preparing for disasters, visit the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) at http://eden.lsu.edu/Pages/default.aspx.