As the 2014 hurricane season begins on June 1, AARP Florida is urging our nearly 3 million Florida members to prepare for this year’s season.
Fortunately, it’s been seven years without a Category 5 hurricane in Florida. But the truth is, all Floridians, especially older adults, should be on their guard for a major storm.
To help, we have compiled several hurricane-preparedness tips to consider that are specifically tailored to Floridians 50+:
• Prepare to be self-sufficient for at least three days. While government responders will work hard to respond to a major disaster, it will take time to deliver supplies. You should be able to cope on your own for at least three days. A week would be better.
• Think about whether your health could be at risk if you lose air conditioning, fresh water, sewage service or other services. While many older people can cope just fine if there’s no electricity, others are living with health conditions that may limit their ability to tolerate heat, especially if they must exert themselves to climb stairs or carry heavy loads. If you may need assistance during and after a storm, register with your local special needs shelter. To register, call your county Emergency Operations Center. The phone number can be found in the Blue Pages of your phone book or at http://www.floridadisaster.org/fl_county_em.asp.
• Update your Evacuation kit. Your Evacuation kit should include your ID or Driver’s License, birth certificate; clothes, food and water (for at least three days); cash and traveler’s checks; maps of the evacuation route, alternate routes and a way to get to local shelters; and your car keys along with a full tank of gas.
• Have a Supply Kit ready. Your Supply kit should include a flashlight, first aid kit, batteries, food, water and any medications you may need for at least three days.
• Evacuate no farther than you have to. If you must evacuate, frequently 100 to 150 miles is far enough to go to get to an area less affected by the storm.
• Make a plan for your pets. Because many of us consider pets to be family members, we can hesitate to evacuate when necessary for fear of leaving our animals at risk.
• Harden your home against hurricane damage now.
• Learn more: go to http://www.createthegood.org/toolkit/operation-emergency-prepare
Floridians 50+ with special health needs should register with a special needs shelter. Keep in mind that even if you need no assistance now, when you have access to electrical power and many services, your situation could change if your area loses power for days or weeks. For registration information, visit the Florida Department of Elder Affairs website at http://elderaffairs.state.fl.us/doea/disaster.php, or call 1-800-96-ELDER (1-800-963-5337).
Think you are already prepared for this hurricane season? AARP also is urging Floridians age 50+ to join others in helping their friends, neighbors and communities prepare for storms as well. Adults 50+ can break through barriers and make a big difference in times of disaster. For more information on how you can help in major disasters visit https://states.aarp.org/fl-reserves/
Create The Good, via http://www.createthegood.org/diy-toolkits, will provide continuing opportunities for AARP members and other Floridians to give back to their communities through hurricane-preparedness. Viewers of the website will find step-by-step instructions on how to lend a helping hand to those in need.
Whether Florida residents have five minutes, five hours or longer, Create The Good/Operation Hurricane Prepare offers ways to engage and to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
Create The Good Toolkit
National Hurricane Center
Weather Channel’s hurricane forecast