With all of the recent increases in severe tropical storms and hurricanes, it’s never too early to prepare seniors for power outages. Whether you’re living independently or have found a great senior living community, having electricity is something we often forget about until it’s unavailable. Although most power outages won’t last a dangerous amount of time, seniors can be at greater risk when the grid goes down for a bit.
Even if it’s not on your mind in the immediate future, helping to prepare seniors for power outages is something to consider sooner rather than later!
Ways to Prepare Seniors for Power Outages
1. Prepare For The Climate
Although most people can deal with a short burst of an extreme climate, vulnerable seniors can be in danger if the air conditioning suddenly goes out or the heat is lost. For those who live alone or with someone else they’re taking care of, responding to the climate is one of the first steps to ensuring personal safety. Make sure to have extra blankets available and warm clothing in cold climates, along with well-ventilated living quarters in warmer ones.
2. Find a Light Source
Dark houses and living spaces can present particular risks for seniors even when the power is still available. Slips, trips, and falls are some of the most common injuries as a result of a cluttered home that is hard to navigate. Making sure to have clear access to things like flashlights or electric lanterns is key for those looking to prepare seniors for power outages. Whether the breaker needs to be flipped, or you just need to find your way around, it’s important to be able to see. We’d caution against using open flames like candles or lamps in the event that they are knocked over — they also don’t provide an adequate light source anyway.
3. Eat Well and Stay Hydrated
Although this is good advice with a fully powered home, it’s particularly applicable to times when the fridge is dead. This scenario can put a real strain on the food someone has available to them, so we’ll share a quick life-hack:
To ensure that your food is still good to eat, place a cup of frozen water in your freezer with a coin resting on the top of the ice. If it melts and the quarter sinks to the bottom, you’ll know whether or not the food in your freezer may also be compromised.
Otherwise, if you’re lucky enough to have an extra freezer in the cellar, stock up on bags of ice ahead of time to keep things cool while you wait for power. Should it melt, you’ll have a bit of extra drinking water just in case! It can also be helpful to stay stocked up on dry foods and things that don’t take heat to prepare. This could be things like:
- Dried Fruit
- Nuts and Trail Mix
- Whole Wheat Crackers
- Peanut Butter
- Canned Meats like tuna, salmon, chicken, or turkey
- Canned vegetables like beans, carrots, and peas
- Power bars and granola
4. Stay Informed
One of the most important aspects of preparing for a power outage is the length of time you’ll be without electricity. Considering that you won’t have access to TV or the internet (besides the charge on a cell phone) it is good to invest in a small, battery powered radio to receive the latest information. There are some radios that can be powered by hand and can be a good investment if you’re in a location that experiences storms frequently.
If you are aware that a senior loved one is in an area without power, do whatever possible to check in and make sure they are alright. They may be the self-sufficient type, but a little extra attention can go a long way — especially in emergency situations!
5. Unplug Expensive Devices
If the power has been out a while, you’ll want to consider unplugging some of your appliances like TVs, stereos, and other expensive electronics. If the power suddenly returns, this could cause a surge and damage some of these products beyond repair. In the worst case scenario, it can cause dangerous sparks which may even lead to fires.
Keep in mind that this list isn’t definitive and there are lots of other things you’ll want to prepare for given your geographical location. Try Googling things like “how to prepare for a power outage in (insert your area here)” for some more specific information. Stay safe out there and prepare as best as you can, seniors!