Caregiving tips for summer include being prepared for emergencies and urgent situations.
This week we’re having a heat wave here in South Carolina. Well, it is July as I write this, so somewhat expected. We’ve had pop-up thunderstorms two days this week, and lost the power briefly those days.
During the thunderstorms, I decided to carry a flashlight in my pocket. It was towards evening, and when the lights go out at night in this rural location, it is pitch black. Carrying a flashlight in case the lights go out is a simple effective way to be prepared.
Summary of Summer Caregiving Tips for Preparedness
- Keep a list of emergency numbers to call next to the phone.
- Keep documents you may need in an emergency handy.
- Have supplies, food, drinking water, non-drinking water and medications you may need in an emergency. Periodically check to be sure they’re up to date and not expired. Keeping a list can make checking and restocking simpler.
- Before hot weather comes have the air conditioning system checked and repaired if needed.
- Battery powered lighting and fans should be considered as part of your emergency supplies in case the power goes out.
- Be familiar with possible routes of evacuation.
Some caregiving tips for preparing for summer emergencies include…
Keeping a list of emergency numbers next to the phone. By having these numbers easily accessible in a crisis, precious seconds can be saved getting help and medical care.
What about documents you might need in an emergency? This can include a list of medications, doctors with their emergency contact information, legal documents like Durable Healthcare Power of Attorney and Living Will. There’s a simple free kit called Vial of Life you can get by going to their website at http://www.vialoflife.com.
Another thing to consider is supplies and medications you should have available if your area is susceptible to summer storms. Even thunderstorms can result in loss of electricity and air conditioning. In periods of intense heat it may not be safe to travel to the store for several days. Or a storm could disrupt travel. Your carereceiver’s doctor or pharmacist can give you a list of medications and how to best store them.
Has the air conditioning in your carereceiver’s home been checked this year? Ideally it should be checked before the hottest weather. Regular servicing of equipment is important, as there can be unexpected leaks. You certainly don’t want to lose your carereceiver’s air conditioning when he needs it most!
Does your carereceiver have several days supply of food and water if the electricity or water is disrupted? Bottled water is readily available in many stores, including discount stores. The bottles are dated like food, so you can know when they’ll expire. Storing them can be a simple way to prevent needing to gather them in an emergency situation when you have other things on your mind. And in an emergency situation, store shelves often quickly become bare.
Think about having food available that doesn’t need refrigeration. This can include individual servings of food, like milk that is packaged to be stored without refrigeration. Or supplements like Ensure ® can be stored without refrigeration. And as always you need to consider whether these foods are on your carereceiver’s diet, or if it’s okay to go off that diet in an emergency. Canned goods are another option to consider. Heating food is easier than cooking it if the electricity goes off. If you have gas, this may be less of a problem. Although it’s possible that gas lines may also be disrupted in an emergency.
What about non-drinking water? If you lose your water supply, you can usually flush the toilets once using the water that’s in the tank. Beyond that, you can use water you’ve stored for that purpose. It can be poured into the tank and flush, or directly into the bowl. And if pets are involved, be sure to include their emergency supplies.
Calling 211 or your local Area Agency on Aging should be able to direct you to the right offices to help you decide what supplies should be kept on hand. And your carereceiver’s doctor should also be able to help.
Fans can be helpful to circulate air even with air conditioning. Ceiling fans work optimally if they push the air down in summer and pull it up in winter. For emergencies, there are fans that run on batteries, and you may want to invest in one for your carereceiver. It can be a personal fan, enough to get the air moving around her even if it doesn’t cool the whole room.
What about lighting? Candles and kerosene lamps may be dangerous for your carereceiver to use. Battery powered flashlights and lanterns are an option you may wish to consider. Stores that sell camping equipment can be a big help. You may find supplies and ideas there, even if you decide to buy them somewhere else.
Are you in an area that is prone to evacuations? Summertime storms can lead to flooding, high winds, tornadoes and fires depending upon where you live. Your preparation for which emergencies are most likely includes considering your geographic location.
If your carereceiver and you live in an area that may require evacuation due to summer storms, it’s a good idea to know possible routes of evacuation ahead of time.
And having a bag with supplies you can take along for your carereceiver is another good idea. You can consider change of clothes, personal items including adult diapers if needed, medications and maybe even some nonperishable foods. If you need to travel, it’s a good idea to take water along in your car for everyone including pets.
Safety experts remind drivers it’s dangerous to drive into water on the road if you’re not sure how deep it is. The car can stall and can be stuck or even struck by another vehicle if that occurs.
What are your favorite caregiving tips for summer preparedness? Share in the comments!
To your Happy & Healthy Caregiving,
Ina Gilmore MD
Global Purple Angel Dementia Ambassador
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Please Note: The information and suggestions in this article are for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. The information provides are suggestions to start and are not intended to be a complete or comprehensive list. Seek additional advice form your professional advisors, including your medical team.