After a catastrophe occurs it can be shocking. The damage can be extensive and the clean up can be overwhelming, especially for the disabled and elderly.
When a hurricane hits it can be scary for everyone but one segment of the population is particularly vulnerable when disaster strikes, the disabled. After Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012 the New York Times reported that half of those who died in the storm were 65 and older, or disabled. Unfortunately many of these storm-related injuries could have been avoided, but they were due to social isolation and limited physical capabilities.
Many of these individuals, as a desire to maintain their independence, are often reluctant to seek services or ask family members for help. As a result, a large number of the injuries reported were due to the inability to properly clean up or move around the wreckage resulting in bodily damage that went uncared for.
If you are a loved one, caregiver or neighbor of a senior citizen or disabled individual, it’s important to be aware of the necessary procedures to follow after a hurricane hits to help them remain safe.
What to do after a hurricane
Remain cautious and updated
If internet connection or satellite access is available updates from news rooms, weather stations, and hurricane trackers are posted online in real time in order to be efficiently updated at all times. They will inform you of safe spots, hurricane movement and even where to get assistance. It is also important to stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding even after the hurricane has passed.
If you evacuated only return home when officials say that it is safe. Only drive if necessary and avoid flooded roads and be aware of washed out bridges. Keep updated on traffic flow and safe zones to travel.
Make sure to stay out of buildings with water damage until it is properly assessed and be cautious of your surroundings. Keep an eye out for downed power lines and unstable ground. When returned to your home take pictures of the damage for insurance purposes and remember DO NOT use candles, only flashlights. Smell for gas and make sure to evacuate and call the fire department if any odd odors or hissing sounds are found. Make sure to avoid drinking tap water until it is verified through your city that the water is not contaminated. Also, make sure to check refrigerated food for spoilage, air out a home before staying, and assume any building that was flooded is contaminated with mold that may increase health risks for those with breathing conditions.
Make sure when you start cleaning your home to wear protective clothing including rubber gloves and boots. Be cautious when moving furniture since they may be waterlogged. Remove all drywall and insulation that has been in contact with flood waters as well as any items that may have absorbed water and cannot be cleaned or disinfected (e.g. mattresses, carpet and stuffed animals). In addition, make sure to also clear clogged rain gutter and downspouts to prevent further flooding. Check all surrounding areas for harmful debris and verify with a professional that trees around your home are not damaged due to the flooding and won’t fall later on.
Hurricanes are disastrous, not just to homes but to lives. If you are a loved one, friend or neighbor check up on any disabled or elderly individuals and make sure that they have the help they need.
If your community has experienced a flood or any disaster make sure to let your family and friends know about your welfare. Also it is important to check with local churches and community centers for sand bags and or water that the city and government may give out for free. Let it be known that local schools and community centers are often and almost always used as shelters if you need a place to stay.
For updated information for those in Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew Please call any of the following numbers or visit the websites below.
Fl Emergency hotline: 1-800-342-3557
Palm Beach County 561-712-6400,
Miami-Dade County, 305-468-5900.
In addition, some cities are offering additional hurricane information and/or assistance via these numbers:
Boca Raton (Citizens Information Center): 561-982-4900
Boynton Beach (Hurricane Information Hotline): 561-742-6921,
Delray Beach (Hurricane Information Hotline): 561-526-4320
Juno Beach (Town Center): 561-626-1122,
Police Department non-emergency number: 561-799-4445
Jupiter (Resident Information Line): 561-743-7013
Jupiter Inlet Colony (Patrol Officer’s Duty Phone): 561-262-7548
Ocean Ridge (Police Department non-emergency number): 561-732-8331
Palm Beach (Police Department non-emergency number): 561-838-5454
Fort Lauderdale neighbor information line: 954-828-8888
Dania Beach’s emergency operations center: 954-924-6800