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Shelter for the Storm: Hurricane Safety in Senior Living

Jun 25, 2022 | Senior Living, Community News

According to Colorado State University (CSU) and AccuWeather forecasters, odds are higher than normal for a major hurricane to strike within 50 miles of Florida during the 2022 hurricane season. The NOAA predictions correspond: They expect 14-21 named storms in the Atlantic this year.

“Understanding your risk and preparing early is key to hurricane resilience,” says Michele Wasserlauf, executive director of The Terraces at Bonita Springs. “But when you live in a senior living community, much of the stress involved in hurricane preparedness is taken off your shoulders.”

Keep reading to learn how to make sure you’re ready to weather the storm and how a senior living community can help you prepare for this high-risk hurricane season.

Understand your hurricane risk.

Hurricanes are not only a coastal problem. Their effects can be felt hundreds of miles inland, with rain, flooding, tornadoes or rip currents. If you live in Florida, you’ll want to be aware of what you can expect from a hurricane.

A senior living community, such as The Terraces at Bonita Springs, located in a hurricane-prone area will understand the community’s risk. The policies, procedures, and preparedness of the administrators and staff plan for the unexpected. While no one can control the weather, you can rest assured that risks are being assessed, prevention measures are being implemented, and you’ll be informed of any plans should an emergency arise.

Create plans for sheltering in place and evacuation.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has instituted “national emergency preparedness requirements to ensure adequate planning for both natural and man-made disasters, and coordination with federal, state, tribal, regional and local emergency preparedness systems.” This means that senior living communities such as The Terraces at Bonita Springs are legally required to create appropriate emergency plans and be prepared to implement them in a timely manner.

A Life Plan Community that might experience hurricane activity will have both an evacuation plan and a plan to shelter in place on file. Plans address appropriate staffing levels needed in case of an emergency and directives about how to secure access to electricity, medicine, water and food.

Senior living communities, such as The Terraces at Bonita Springs, have unique partnerships with transportation centers, hotels, hospitals and rehabilitation centers that can help with a transition that might have to take place.

Evacuation plans will describe protocols for:

  • Getting residents out safely
  • Coordinating transportation
  • Securing alternative shelter
  • Communicating with family members

Shelter-in-place plans are reviewed annually and include steps to take in case of a power outage or a shortage of resources. Whether you are living independently or in long-term care, you can rest assured knowing the planning is done and resources are in place to keep you safe and provide as much continuity and stability as possible.

Familiarize yourself with warnings and alerts.

One way you can make sure you’re personally prepared for severe weather is to bookmark certain weather forecasting sites like the National Hurricane Center (NHC) and your local forecasting station. When there’s a subtropical storm or a tropical cyclone in the Gulf of Mexico off-shore waters, the NHC issues advisories at least every six hours. When watches and warnings are in effect, they’ll issue advisories every three hours.

Strengthen your home to withstand the winds.

Some common home maintenance advice to prepare for a hurricane is to clean your drains and gutters, clear items from your yard that could be projectiles, and consider installing hurricane shutters. These are precautions older adults in senior living will not have to take care of on their own. Community staff members will provide this maintenance, just like they provide other necessary household maintenance.

Review documents and ensure tech is ready.

The start of hurricane season is a great time to review important documents. Make sure they are up to date, make copies of them, and store them digitally with password protection. When a storm is forecasted, charge necessary devices – like your cell phone – in case you lose power.

The Terraces at Bonita Springs Is Hurricane Ready

At The Terraces at Bonita Springs, we’re serious about residents’ safety. Whether you live in independent living, assisted living, memory support, skilled nursing or rehabilitation, our staff is prepared and ready to implement emergency plans as needed. Contact us today for more information about how our emergency response plans keep residents safe.