While the worst of Hurricane Ian has ended, people in Florida are still picking up the pieces. In fact, it was Florida’s deadliest storm since 1935. According to a recent story in the New York Times, many older adults drowned in Hurricane Ian.
A Surprisingly High Number of Older Adults Drowned in Hurricane IanDuring the hurricane, floods and debris were everywhere. Homes were destroyed. Lives were lost. In the end, the storm has been blamed for at least 119 deaths. Outside of Florida’s borders, officials in North Carolina linked four deaths to Hurricane Ian as well. While it is still difficult to truly grasp the extent of this tragedy, more information is gradually being collected. Data from state and local governments shows that a remarkably high number of older adults drowned in Hurricane Ian. The Times article goes through several of the cases step-by-step, and it is well worth reading. For the purposes of this safety blog, this is an excellent time to revisit water safety tips for older adults.
Seniors and Flood DangerAs we often note, drowning is a danger for anyone. It can happen in only a few inches of water; just enough to cover the nose and mouth. During a flood, the water level rises rapidly. Above all, water safety begins with swimming lessons. Though we are referring to Hurricane Ian today, floods are certainly not limited to “hurricane season.” While there are always exceptions, on the whole younger, more agile adults and teens may be more likely to be able to swim for safety. However, there are several potential dangers that can leave older adults trapped or without access to proper safety measures. For this reason, it is crucial to pay attention to swimming safety for seniors. Being trained in swimming and knowing how to save yourself from drowning can be a genuine life saver. It is always better to learn sooner than later.
Preparation for StormsLike the damage from Hurricane Ian, flooding danger often occurs suddenly. Safety really does depend on forward planning and paying attention to the weather. After all, no one wants to be preparing for a storm once the rain has already started. To this end, older adults should be absolutely sure that they are in close contact with family or friends. It is always better to be with other people during major storm events. Having a group of loved ones can provide comfort, peace of mind and someone to watch your back. There is never a better time to have a friend. In addition to sticking together, here are some basic plans to help you to prepare for an impending storm:
- Prepare candles and check all flashlight batteries, just in case the power goes out.
- Make sure to designate a meeting area ahead of time. There should be meet up spots both in your home and outside. In a storm, it is easy for a group to become separated.
- Refuel the car beforehand.
- Be sure to carry identification and emergency contact information with you at all times.
- Keep a radio on-hand to listen for emergency alerts and potential meeting areas.