(BPT) – Flooding, extreme heat, drought, thunderstorms, lightning and hurricanes: For all its sun and fun, summer weather can be dangerous. This time last year, we saw record-breaking temperatures, rainfall and drought across the country. While everyone should be aware of summer weather dangers, the threat can be especially dire if you’re a senior citizen who may be less mobile in and outside your home, and more at risk during weather emergencies.
“It’s important for seniors to be aware of weather dangers, stay abreast of what’s happening in their area and take steps to protect themselves from storms, flood and excessive heat,” says Thair Phillips, president of RetireSafe, a senior advocacy group.
Seniors can be at greater risk for a number of reasons. They may have existing health problems that can be worse in extreme temperatures or take medications that react adversely in the heat. It may be more difficult for them to evacuate or prepare their homes when severe weather threatens.
Fortunately, seniors can take the following steps to protect themselves from weather-related emergencies.
1. Stay abreast of weather reports by monitoring a credible, accurate weather news source, such as The Weather Channel. In addition to up-to-the-minute weather reports, the channel also provides severe weather alerts; coverage before, during and after weather emergencies such as hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, droughts and wildfires; life-saving information from critical emergency response agencies, such as The American Red Cross, FEMA and NOAA; and information on how to prepare for emergencies and where to go for support after a weather-related crisis occurs.
2. Take precautions against extreme heat, which can be particularly life-threatening for seniors. Try to remain indoors in air conditioning during the worst heat of the day. Use fans to supplement A/C in your home. If you’re without air-conditioning, try to go to a public place, such as a library, during a heat wave. Ask for help from your community’s senior services agencies during heat-related emergencies.
3. Prepare for severe storms. Establish a support network of people who can help you prepare your home before a storm. Create an emergency kit that includes a supply of necessary medications (in case you can’t get to a drugstore for a while), bottled water, non-perishable foods, basic first aid supplies and a fully-charged cell phone.
4. Sometimes, a weather-related event can be so severe that you’ll be asked to evacuate. Pay attention to alerts provided by The Weather Channel. Follow the directions of emergency response personnel, including recommended evacuation routes. If you’re able to evacuate on your own, take your emergency kit with you. If not, contact your local police and fire departments for help.
“With hurricane season underway and signs pointing to another tough summer in many areas of the country, it’s important seniors stay informed and prepared,” Phillips says. “Knowing what’s coming and how to handle it can help them stay safer this summer.”
If you don’t already have The Weather Channel through your cable or satellite provider–or have recently had the channel removed from your lineup–contact your cable service provider and ask to have the channel added.