Preparing Seniors for Heat and Power Outages

Summer is nearly here and although extreme heat may be weeks away yet, now is the time to prepare for warm weather and the potential for power outages due to storms or disaster.  And if forecasters are right, 2017 may be a warmer than normal summer in Canada and parts of the United States.

Seniors or disabled people who rely on power equipment for mobility, oxygen or other personal care should make a plan in case of a loss of electricity.  The Department of Homeland Security encourages all households to make a supply kit in case of an emergency and older adults may need to include more than just food, water and clothing.   Seniors who use power wheelchairs should have a manual backup in case of a power outage and a list of all medications as well as an extra pair of glasses and batteries for hearing aids, if appropriate.  Supply kits should also include flashlights, batteries, an emergency medical kit and a radio to stay informed.

If there is a power outage during a heat wave, it’s important to check on elderly friends and family frequently.  Elderly people may have a diminished sense of thirst and can be more likely to suffer from dehydration or heat stroke.   Symptoms of heat stroke include shallow breathing, a lack of perspiration, dizziness, dry mouth and headaches.

Try to move an elderly person to an air-conditioned space like a public library or shopping mall to cool off during the hottest part of the day.  A cool shower or bath, rest and cool non-alcoholic drinks can also help prevent heat-related health problems.  For more information about heat stress in older adults, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by following this link.

To receive weather and disaster alerts on your smartphone, download the FEMA App here.