With the prediction of winter storms this weekend, now is the time to properly prepare for cold weather, potential loss of power, and limited access to services, including roads, medical care, and communication systems. Extreme cold and harsh winter storms can dramatically increase the daily hardships and day-to-day survival challenges for all residents, but especially those who have special health care needs.
It’s important to first understand the terms of declining weather and pending winter storms.
- A winter weather advisory means that cold, ice, and snow are expected.
- A winter storm watch means severe weather such as heavy snow or ice is possible in the next day or two.
- A winter storm warning means that severe winter conditions have begun or will begin very soon.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides the following tips for seniors and people with disabilities:
- Make prior arrangements with your physician or check with your oxygen supplier about emergency plans for those on respirators or other electric-powered medical equipment.
- Plan now to have electrical backup for medical equipment.
- Develop a back-up communications plan by having a charged cell phone in case land lines are disrupted.
- Maintain a two-week supply of medications, both prescription and non-prescription.
- Have copies of your medical records, prescriptions, and medical needs readily available.
- Have contact lenses, extra eyeglasses, and batteries for hearing aids ready to go.
- Include your service animals and pets in your plans.
FEMA also recommends that people with special needs develop and stay in touch with a nearby network of assistance before winter storms or record cold move in. It’s important for neighbors, relatives, care attendants, friends and coworkers to be part of your care and communications circle. Never depend on one person alone.
Severe winter weather including snow, subfreezing temperatures, strong winds, ice, or even heavy rain requires planning ahead. FEMA recommends an emergency supply kit that includes:
- A battery powered radio, extra flashlights, and batteries, and, at minimum, a week’s supply of canned or non-perishable food and bottled water.
- Adequate clothing and blankets for warmth.
- First Aid Supplies.
Remember that planning ahead, assembling an emergency supply kit, staying informed, and keeping those in your circle informed about you are the best ways to stay safe through the uncertain days of winter. For additional information on winter storm safety, please contact Myrtue Medical Center’s Public Health Office at 712.755.4422.