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Hurricane preparation tips for those who are older, have special needs

UPDATED, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023: The United States tends to be the target of tropical systems that form in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. But this week, California is in the path of Pacific-spawned Hurricane Hilary. And depending on Hilary's precise path, she could substantially impact Arizona, and even Nevada. Now is the time for West Coast residents and their inland neighbors to get ready. 

June 1 2023 potential first tropical depression Weather Channel screen capture1
The Weather Channel meteorologist Ari Sarsalari says we don't need to worry too much about the low-pressure system that's formed in the Gulf of Mexico. You can watch his full forecast by clicking the screen capture above or here.

The continental United States' hurricane season starts today. It runs through Nov. 30 for tropical storms that form in the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico.

The season's first tropical disturbance, officially Invest 91L, has formed in the Gulf and right now looks like it could head toward Florida.

UPDATE: That was quick. Invest 91L now is Tropical Depression 2.

UPDATE, Friday, June 2, 2023: We have our first named storm. However, the National Hurricane Center says Tropical Storm Arlene's southerly movement should mean mostly outer band rain concerns for Florida.

Long-time ol' blog readers have already recognized this as my annual hurricane season prep post. Since I've been blogging about storms and disasters from Don't Mess With Taxes' early days, I'm not going to reinvent the wheel now.

Instead, let me direct you to the special Storm Warnings preparation page, and last year's physical and financial disaster preparation tips.

Special preparation and plans: But there are a couple of groups that need special attention when disasters are imminent, older adults and people with disabilities. Sometimes these demographics overlap. In both cases, they usually have special considerations in preparing for the worst that Mother Nature too often sends our way.

Here are some tips for these individuals and their families from HealthinAging.org, SeniorLiving.org, National Institute on Aging, and Ready.gov.

  • Get and stay informed. Know what disasters could affect your area, particularly those that could call for an evacuation. Keep a NOAA Weather Radio tuned to your local emergency station and monitor TV and radio. Follow mobile alerts and warnings about severe weather in your area. Download the FEMA app and get weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five different locations anywhere in the United States.
  • Have an emergency communications plan. Create a group text or a phone call chain (a plan in which you make an initial call to one person, who then calls the next person, and so on). This will make sure that all relatives and friends know what is happening in the event of an emergency.
  • Keep contact information complete and up-to-date. Have the current numbers of people you’ll need to contact in an emergency. Make sure those people have your phone number, and the numbers of nearby friends or neighbors. Put an extra copy of these in a travel wallet, purse, or suitcase. Create
  • Create a support network of people who can help in a disaster. Keep a contact list in a watertight container in your emergency kit (see previously mentioned preparation tips) or on your electronic devices. Let your support network where you keep your emergency supplies. You may want to consider giving a trusted member a key to your house or apartment or that of your relative in the threat area.
  • Make travel arrangements in case of evacuation. Talk to family members (or the directors of the facility where you live) about what you would do in the event of an evacuation. Will you be able to drive or will you need someone to pick you up? If so, who, and at what meeting place? Who can provide a back-up ride, and how will that person be contacted? You may also want to ask the director to designate staff who will stay with a very elderly adult during an evacuation.
  • Plan ahead for accessible transportation. This will help you evacuate or get around during or after disaster. Check with local transit providers as well as with your emergency management agency to identify appropriate accessible options.
  • Choose a meeting place in case of evacuation. Pick two meeting places—one near your home, the other outside the neighborhood—where you can wait and relatives can find you. Make sure everyone has the address and phone number of the meeting location. If you are caring for an older adult who lives in a facility, find out where he or she will be taken in case of evacuation.
  • Get local emergency information in advance. Get a community disaster/emergency plan for your area. Learn where evacuees go for medical care or emergency supplies of medications. Get a map of evacuation routes to keep in your car.  Most areas have emergency shelter locations. Identify those and write a list of emergency contacts and addresses. Keep this list somewhere safe and available to take with you in an emergency. Keep an electronic version as well, for example, in your smartphone contacts with “911” included in each entry.
  • Consider getting a medical ID bracelet. Consider ordering a medical ID bracelet or pendant for people with chronic health problems. Information on medical conditions, allergies, medications, and emergency contacts can be engraved on the surface. For very elderly or disabled adults, put the identification information, list of diagnoses, and medications in a traveler’s wallet that can be worn in an emergency.
  • Keep hearing and visual aids and other devices close. Fumbling around for hearing aids, glasses, walking aids, and phones costs precious seconds, even minutes. Seniors should keep their devices on nightstands and within easy reach. Similarly, lamps should be touch- or voice-activated, easy to turn on. If you have a communication disability, consider carrying printed cards or storing information on your devices to inform first responders and others how to communicate with you. If you use assistive technologies, plan how you will evacuate with the devices or how you will replace equipment if lost or destroyed.

Emergency-kit-essentials-older-adults-NIH

Get ready now: Regardless of your age or physical abilities, now is the time to prepare.

As noted at the start of this post, the 2023 hurricane season could begin as soon as later today or tomorrow. Or the low-pressure system could fizzle out. See update above.

That uncertainty is why it's important to get ready. You never know when a tropical system, storm, hurricane, or major hurricane, like last year's horrific Ian from which Floridians are still trying to recover, will form or strike. Be ready.

This year, we're in an El Niño weather pattern, which typically brings stronger wind shear and limits the number and intensity of storms. But we're also seeing warmer than usual water temperatures, especially in the Gulf of Mexico and eastern Atlantic. That's often a sign of a more active hurricane season because warm water is fuel for tropical systems.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center expects 2023 to bring 12 to 17 named storms, with five to nine possibly becoming hurricanes. As many as four of those storms could reach major status, which is category 3, 4 or 5 with winds of 111 mph or higher. Regardless of the count, it only takes one to wreak havoc.

2023 names: When storms do form and get named, they receive monikers that are repeated every six years, unless they were so destructive that they are retired. That's the case with Fiona and Ian. Those names were retired by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) due to the devastation and deaths each caused last year, and they will be replaced by Farrah and Idris when the 2022 list returns in 2028.

For 2023, named storms will be christened —

Arlene

Harold

Ophelia

Bret

Idalia

Philippe

Cindy

Jose

Rina

Don

Katia

Sean

Emily

Lee

Tammy

Franklin

Margot

Vince

Gert

Nigel

Whitney

If Mother Nature is extraordinarily active, as has happened during the 2005 season that spawned Katrina and again in the record-breaking 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, officials used to dub storms using the Greek alphabet. In 2021, however, it decided to use a supplemental naming system. If we get beyond Whitney, those tropical developments will be called —

Adria

Heath

Orlanda

Braylen

Isla

Pax

Caridad

Jacobus

Ronin

Deshawn

Kenzie

Sophie

Emery

Lucio

Tayshaun

Foster

Makayla

Viviana

Gemma

Nolan

Will

Let's hope the additional names aren't needed. But again, I must repeat, even if it's a light hurricane season, it only takes one storm if it makes landfall where you live. So be ready.

And make sure you and all your family and friends, regardless of age and physical abilities, are prepared.

 

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