Reprinted with permission from article's original author, David Fleshler, at the Sun Sentinel.
The horrific deaths of 12 people in a Hollywood nursing home that lost power in Hurricane Irma focused attention on the extra difficulties faced by elderly and other vulnerable people in a disaster.
A new state law passed in response to the tragedy requires nursing homes and assisted living facilities to have backup power sources capable of maintaining a temperature of 81 degrees or less for at least four days. The law gave them until June 1, the start of hurricane season, to have systems in place, although they could seek exemptions until Jan. 1 for delays related to construction, zoning approval or delivery.
David Bruns, spokesman for AARP, recommends that family members contact their skilled nursing or assisted living facility and request a copy of their emergency response plan.
“If they won’t provide it to residents or family members, then something is wrong,” he said.
After a storm and the ensuing power outages, he said concerned family members should verify that proper cooling is being provided.
“If there’s any doubt,” he said, “call 911.”
Here are more tips for the elderly and other vulnerable people in a hurricane:
BEFORE THE STORM
-- Help an elderly neighbor prepare with AARP’s Create the Good Operation Emergency Prepare.
-- Pre-register for special needs shelters, vulnerable population registries and other services for people who may need extra help. You can do so here:
Broward County: broward.org/Emergency/community/Pages/ImportantRegistrations.aspx 954-357-6385
Miami-Dade County:miamidade.gov/fire/emergency-management.asp 305-513-7700
Palm Beach County: discover.pbcgov.org/publicsafety/dem/Pages/Special-Needs.aspx561-712-6400
-- Make sure you have prescription medicine to last a month. Make sure you have provisions for any that may require refrigeration.
-- Keep a list of medications, vaccination records, allergies, special equipment such as oxygen, hearing aids, names and phone numbers of doctors, pharmacists and family members.
-- Friends, family and neighbors should check on older adults before and after the storm.
-- Anyone receiving home health care, dialysis or chemotherapy, or using medical equipment that requires electricity should check with providers.
-- If you are mobility impaired and live or work in a high-rise building, have an escape chair.
-- If you require oxygen, check with your supplier about emergency plans.
-- If your physician has decided that during an emergency you need to be cared for in a skilled nursing facility, such as a hospital or nursing home, he or she must arrange pre-admittance with a specific facility prior to the evacuation.
AFTER THE STORM
-- If you lose power, take the heat problem seriously. Many elderly or unwell people have a reduced tolerance for high heat. This can also be affected by medications.
-- If you’re without power, consider evacuating after the storm, so long as the streets are safe. It’s easier, safer and can get you to a place where there’s power for a few days.
-- Let your family members know if you’re okay at the American Red Cross’s Safe and Well web site. https://safeandwell. communityos.org/cms/index.php, al
MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT THESE LINKS
Sources: AARP, American Red Cross, Florida Department of Elder Affairs, Centers for Disease Control