Keeping Seniors Safe in Power Outages

The season for severe summer storms has arrived, and as many discovered this Victoria Day weekend, high winds can leave homes and businesses without power for days.  Elderly loved ones are at higher risk for health complications during such an event and it’s important for loved ones to check on seniors during heat spells and power outages. 

Because older adults are more likely to suffer an injury that leads to hospitalization as a result of a fall, getting elderly adults a safe light source during a power outage is paramount.  Falls are commonly the cause of many seniors’ loss of mobility and independent living.  

During periods of intense heat, it’s also important for seniors to stay hydrated and cool.  If the power goes out, and indoor temperatures become too hot, elderly adults should be taken to a cooling center or the home of a friend or family member.  Older adults are not able to regulate their body temperature as well as younger people and can be more vulnerable to heatstroke and dehydration. 

Providing meals for seniors that don’t require heating can also be a great help during power outages.  Meal delivery services may be impacted by severe weather, and perishable food may spoil when power is out for an extended period of time.  A cooler with ice or freezer packs can help keep food and medicines that require refrigeration safe for consumption.  When in doubt about food safety – throw it out.  Seniors can become very ill from foodborne contamination. 

According to the American Red Cross, if power lines are down, keep at least 35 feet away from lines and anything they are touching.  Report any fallen power lines to your electrical provider or call 911.  Do not go near any flooded areas or use electrical equipment or electronics that may have been submerged.  Generators, camp stoves, and charcoal grills should only be used outdoors in well-ventilated areas at least 20 feet away from windows. 

To download a power outage preparedness checklist, follow this link to the Red Cross website. Receive emergency weather alerts by downloading the Emergency: Alerts app from the App Store or Google Play or The Weather Network app