We, in southwest Florida, have been relatively lucky recently with hurricanes. Although we were hit by Irma in 2017 and Wilma in 2005, hurricane disasters have not been an annual event like in some other parts of the US. Still, one never knows when a hurricane might appear. So that we are able to take quick and decisive action when, not if, a hurricane appears on the horizon, it is imperative that we plan and think through what our actions will be ahead of time.

Hurricanes have at least one benefit; unlike earthquakes and tornados, they give us a warning. Meteorologists can see a hurricane or a potential hurricane forming in the Caribbean before it heads our way. While one is never certain until the last hours exactly where a hurricane will make landfall or its exact strength and speed, we will have a pretty good idea of the danger from weather and news reports –certainly enough information to enable us to act!

Here is what we suggest. If you are a senior with home care, we also advise how Collier Home Care can help in the event of an emergency.

1). Get your GO-BAGS ready!

Disaster Supply Kits include daily essentials you will need. We recommend using two bags, the first could be a duffel bag or a carry-on-sized suitcase (make sure they have wheels), the second, a backpack to include items that you use daily and would not gather until the last minute.

1st Bag:

  • Masks & sanitizer (60% alcohol minimum)
  • Non-perishable food (with a can opener if you are including canned food)
  • Water, sufficient for 3 days
  • A flashlight & batteries
  • Toilet paper & garbage bags
  • Cash & coins (ATMs may not be in service)
  • A whistle
  • A blanket & pillow
  • Copies of important documentation like IDs, social security cards, medical cards, medical records, and the phone numbers of friends and family members
  • A pack of cards or game to provide entertainment and pass the time
  • Any supplies for your pets and/or service animals (food, leashes, medication, etc.)

2nd Bag:

  • All current medications
  • Cell phones, chargers & external portable chargers (if possible)
  • Other electronic devices such as iPads & computers
  • Necessary IDs, licenses, and credit cards

Inventory your kit in the 1st bag every six months or so you can rotate out any food that may have expired. For your 2nd bag (those items that you use daily), identify a central location in your residence where you leave these items so that they can be gathered quickly and/or make a list of the items so that you do not forget anything important.

2.) Understand your evacuation route.

If you don’t drive or do not own a vehicle, find out how your community evacuates those who don’t have a ride or make arrangements with a neighbor or family member. If you are uncertain, speak with your caregiver. Collier Home Care can help in identifying the evacuation route best suited for you.

During the storm, listen to the news so you’ll know when to leave if a hurricane evacuation is called. Evacuations may happen by zone so look up your zone as well.

Collier County evacuation zones are listed here.

3.) Reach out.

Work with your support network like your family, neighbors, friends, and Collier Home Care caregiver to make a cohesive plan as a team. When you bring up the topic of planning ahead with friends, family, and neighbors, people may appreciate your sense of caution and preparation. They may not have given their own emergency preparedness plan a second thought. Your conversation may inspire them to make a plan.

4.) Stay calm.

It’s not uncommon for feelings of anxiety to accompany times of natural disaster, tropical storms, or hurricanes. Planning ahead reduces anxiety. It’s so much easier to remain calm when you know what to do. Also, keep in mind how many hurricane seasons you’ve survived. Use your experience as wisdom.  

Other helpful tips:

  • Label any equipment such as wheelchairs, canes, or walkers you might need to bring with you with your name, address, and phone number.
  • If you do drive, make sure your gas tank is regularly full during hurricane season.

We share this information because it’s important that all of us take responsibility and plan for times when the sun may not be shining! Collier Home Care caregivers can assist with companion home care, personal home care, and skilled nursing home care before, during, or after a hurricane. All of us at Collier Home Care are here to help you make a plan and support you however we can whenever a storm might strike.