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Prepare Yourself and Your Kūpuna in Case of Hurricane

June marks the beginning of hurricane season in Hawai‘i and it’s a good time to make sure you are prepared to survive a hurricane or other disaster, especially if you are a kupuna or a caregiver.

Do you have a disaster plan and have you practiced it so that everyone in your family knows what to do and where to go? Do you have an emergency kit with two weeks of food, water, medicines and other supplies? If you are a caregiver, have you asked other family members, friends and neighbors to join your caregiving team if a hurricane strikes?

Caregivers, especially caregivers of dementia patients, will need help keeping loved ones safe when winds and seas are raging and in the aftermath of a disaster when there’s no electricity, running water and roads are closed for days or weeks.

Caregivers of dementia patients should label clothing with identification, contact information and information about essential medications in case they wander or are separated.

Don’t count on going to a government emergency shelter if a hurricane or tsunami approaches. Parts of the state, such as O‘ahu’s north windward coast, do not have official emergency shelters because schools are vulnerable to ocean surges.

If you live in a home that has been hardened to withstand strong winds, or a concrete building outside of a tsunami zone or on a high floor, you may be able to shelter in place. If you have to evacuate, check with friends and family who are on higher ground in hurricane-proof structures and see if you can shelter there. Ask ahead of time, before a disaster, not in the middle of an emergency.

In the aftermath of a major disaster, harbors and airports may be closed and Hawai‘i could run out of food before they can be reopened, and we can be resupplied. That’s why you’ll need two weeks of food, water and medicine in your emergency kit whether you shelter at home or evacuate. Your kit should also have cash, battery packs and solar chargers for mobile phones, plus face coverings, soap, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. Include other supplies like contact lens solution, glasses, hearing aids and extra batteries. Put important documents like contact information for family members, a medication list including dosage, medication names, pharmacy information and the prescribing doctor, copies of photo ID, medical insurance cards, and power of attorney in a waterproof bag.

For more information on preparing for hurricanes and other disasters, AARP Hawai‘i is holding free disaster preparation webinars every Saturday in June at 10 a.m. Register for a link at aarp.cvent.com/hiprepare2022 or watch on Facebook Live on the AARP Hawai`i Facebook page. You can also go to aarp.org/hi or our Facebook page and scroll through Upcoming Events to see all the events that AARP is offering.

The topics are: June 4: Hurricanes: How Bad Can it Get?; June 11: Build Your Disaster Plan; June 18: Prepare Your Home to Survive a Hurricane; June 25: Disaster Preparedness for Condos and Apartments.

Craig Gima is communications director at AARP Hawai‘i. He is an award-winning multimedia communicator with more than 30 years of experience. A Honolulu native, Gima spent nearly 19 years at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in a variety of reporting, editing and online roles before joining AARP in 2016. Gima graduated cum laude from the University of Southern California.

This story was originally published in The Hawai`i Herald.

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