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Winter Planning Tips for Elders

Everyone needs to plan for Winter and severe storms. Elders may need a little extra planning to ensure they are safe in an inhospitable environment. Exposure to cold and lack of power for essential medical equipment can be life threatening. Here are some tips for Elders to get ready for Winter.

You should have an Emergency Supply Kit that contains non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered radio, flashlight and extra batteries. Essential medicines may need to be in this kit as well. You may want a kit for home and one for your car, and one in a “bug out bag” that you can take with you if you have to evacuate in a hurry.

A medical records summary (with your current medications) should be in each of those kits. Today, a cell-phone is a must-have emergency device that can take the place of a radio or a written list (although you still need some sort of charger). Get a radio with a hand crank that also works as cell-phone charger.

For more regular needs you will want a supply of ice-melt and sand, snow shovels and adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm. Again, this kind of kit should be in your home and also in your car, along with your personal emergency kit. An extra supply of drinking water is always a good idea.

You need an emergency plan that your friends and family know about. If you have to leave home, where will you go? You should plan one or more emergency sites that you will go to if necessary. Your town may have an emergency shelter already in place or may use a school or fire-house when necessary. Make sure your family knows where you plan to go if you have to leave your home.

Make sure your home is ready for Winter. If you cannot do it yourself, ask family members or pay someone to do it. Review insulation and weather stripping around doors and windows. Check pipes to ensure they are insulated or away from possible freezing spots. You need to know how to shut off your water in an emergency – make sure the shut-off valve is well marked and that you can access it. Have fire extinguishers handy and be careful if you use alternate heating like a kerosene heater or other fire source.

If you have powered medical equipment, you will need a back-up generator or long-lasting battery system. This should be professionally installed and serviced and you may need help to ensure it is running properly and safely. Do not use a portable generator indoors.

Get an emergency weather radio that will sound alerts from NOAA if there is a weather emergency coming. Pay attention to those alerts and take the recommended action, including evacuation, if necessary. Don’t try to be a hero and don’t try to be overly self-reliant. If you need help, ask for it, there are plenty of people who will be happy to help you. That’s what friends and neighbors are for.