Older Ohioans, caregivers: Prepare for coming winter weather


For the Miami Valley Today

COLUMBUS – A multi-day winter weather event is in the forecast for most of Ohio this week. Depending on where you live in the state, you may experience snow, ice, frigid wind chills, and other dangerous conditions. Power outages and hazardous travel are also expected with this storm. The Ohio Department of Aging reminds older Ohioans and caregivers that preparation is key and asks all Ohioans to check on older loved ones and neighbors before, during, and after the storm.

Be prepared

Older Ohioans are encouraged to have an emergency plan and kit that will allow them to remain in place for at least three days if they are unable to safely leave their homes. Your plan and kit should include:

• A battery-operated radio, flashlight, and extra batteries for both of those items;

• Food you can open and prepare easily without electricity;

• One gallon of water per person, per day;

• A first-aid kit and backup supply of medications;

• Spare glasses, extra hearing aid batteries, and non-powered alternatives to assistive and medical equipment that may not work without electricity;

• A loud horn, whistle, or bell you can use to help first responders locate you;

• The names and phone numbers of people you can call for help if you need it; and

• A plan for where you will go if it is unsafe to remain in your home, and how you will get there.

Ask a reliable family member, friend, or neighbor to visit or call on you in an emergency and agree on a plan for what they should do if they are unable to reach you or find you needing help.

Caregivers should plan for the possibility that they will not be able to physically be with their loved ones or their loved ones may need to leave their home for safety. They are encouraged to:

• Know the locations of nearby emergency shelters and have a plan for getting your loved one there, especially if you don’t feel safe driving;

• Identify trusted neighbors or nearby individuals who can act as backup caregivers in a crisis;

• Let your backup caregiver know about your loved one’s condition and how to communicate with them effectively; and

• Store a recent photo of your loved one and copies of their medical documents on your phone to share with first responders, if needed.

Check your neighbor

Checking in on older friends, relatives, and neighbors during severe weather helps them feel connected and gives you an opportunity to spot potential issues and help them get assistance if they need it.

Check their home: Is the temperature comfortable? Are they heating it safely? Is there any damage to their home? Are outdoor walkways clear of snow, ice, and debris?

Check their health: Do they appear alert and aware? Have they fallen? Are they taking their medications as prescribed? Do they need medical attention?

Check that their daily needs are being met: Do they have safe food and water? Are they able to do what they need to do? Do they have someone to call for support and a reliable way to call for emergency help if they need it?

You can check in on an older loved one or neighbor by telephone, text message, email, video call, or in-person if it is safe to travel. If visiting their home, please be safe, wear a face mask, and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer often.

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