Home Health & Hospice

Are You Prepared for Hurricane Season?

Homecare Insider, August 26, 2013

Don’t be fooled by the seemingly mild start to the 2013 hurricane season which began June 1 and will last through November 30. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, although only four tropical storms (Andrea, Barry, Chantal, and Dorian) have formed in the Atlantic basin to date—with Chantal and Dorian forming in the deep tropical Atlantic—significant activity is expected for the remainder of the season. Forecasts predict an additional 9-15 named storms, of which 6-9 are expected to become hurricanes with 3-5 reaching major hurricane status.

The outlook indicates a 70% chance of an above-normal season.

Emergencies, such as a hurricane, create unique challenges for older adults or those with chronic illnesses. Healthcare providers, including home health agencies should take the time to review their disaster readiness plans so all staff members are prepared before the seasons picks up. Additionally, staff members should speak with patients and caregivers to ensure that they understand the risks of hurricane season, and encourage them to develop a safety plan and emergency kit for their home.

The goal of disaster plans is to save lives and reduce panic, confusion, and injury. The first step in doing so is to remain calm. As a homecare professional, you must prepare to take immediate action for any scenario that may arise while caring for a patient at their home. Emergency personnel may not always be available immediately to help out when a disaster strikes, and you must do everything in your control to keep your patient out of harm’s way.

The strong winds that are commonly associated with hurricanes can cause major damage to a home or agency. If there is enough warning, staff and caregivers may cover the windows with boards and put away or secure outdoor furniture and other objects.

In the event of a hurricane warning, remember to do the following:

  • Close all drapes or curtains to protect patients from any breaking windows
  • Put all loose objects into drawers so they will not blow around and cause injury
  • Ensure that first aid or emergency kits are easily accessible

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a variety of resources that staff members and caregivers can access about preparing from hurricanes and other natural disasters.

For more information, click here.