Written by Monica Still, RN, BSN
We often think of disasters as hurricanes, floods, tornadoes or earthquakes. A snowstorm, even a small one, can be a disaster if you lose heat, cannot get the help you need, or are snowbound. If the forecasts are correct, this year is going to be a polar coaster of snow and very cold weather.
The most important thing is to plan for the unexpected. Look at what you need to live and what you would need to do to have that available in the event of a disaster. Make an emergency plan including an evacuation plan with your friends, family, and or caregivers. This is not a comprehensive list and your needs may vary. Ask your local emergency services for help in making your plan if needed.
Here are a few tips to help you make it through a potentially very rough winter.
- Keep at least 3 days worth of food and medications on hand.
- Keep flashlights with fresh batteries nearby.
- Have a supply of extra blankets.
- Notify your local power company of your need to be put back on service quickly in the event of an outage. Notify, your local emergency medical services if you are dependent on electricity for your medical devices.
- If you are a motorized wheelchair user, need a ventilator, CPAP, BIPAP or any other devices that need to be charged make sure they are charged before this disaster occurs so if the power goes out you have at least a few hours of power
- Have a shovel, rock salt and or sand handy.
- If you get home-based community services through an agency. ask that agency what their disaster plan is and how they provide care during a snow or ice storm.
- If you have a personal care assistant that is not through an agency make plans with them in advance what to do in case of a disaster.
- Have a backup plan for care in case a caregiver is unable to make it to your home due to poor road conditions or closures.
- Keep your cell phone charged.
- Find out about local shelters that are open in case of an emergency and how a disabled person can access them.
- Have a battery-operated radio with fresh batteries.
- If you have to go outside wear multiple layers of clothing including gloves. Be aware of areas with diminished sensation to ensure that you don’t get injured.
- If you walk and have to go outside wear shoes with good traction.
- Replace cane tips if you use a cane.
- Keep in touch with your friends, family, neighbors, anyone who can lend a hand.
- Consider getting groceries delivered by a service
- If you have pets or a service animal don’t forget to include them in your disaster plan.
Have a safe and healthy winter season!