Many elderly Jamaicans live with relatives or in homes for the aged. There are many others who live alone, some of whom have physical and or mobility impairments which make it difficult or impossible to respond to warnings or evacuation notices.
Presently, there are churches that make special plans for their aged shut-ins. There are also social welfare groups that cater to specific groups of senior citizens.
There are precautions that need to be followed to ensure the safety of the elderly in the event of a hurricane.
- Appointing someone to coordinate disaster preparation especially for aged and handicapped in the community.
- Identifying proper shelters for the elderly who may need to be evacuated from their homes.
- Establishing what resources are in the community to aid the elderly in the event of a hurricane. For example, transportation for evacuation, food, nursing home facilities, volunteers to help with evacuation or stay in homes of the elderly during the hurricane.
During the Hurricane Watch:
- Voluntary personnel should be contacted to assist in evacuation.
- Shelters should be checked to make sure they are safe.
- Elderly citizens staying at home should be checked to make sure they have the basic necessities.
- Check homes of the elderly to find out if they are well-built in a relatively safe area.
- Get volunteers to stay with them.
- Make sure enough water is stored and there is enough non-perishable food.
- Check special medication that may need refilling.
- Make sure lamps, matches, kerosene oil, flashlights, batteries, portable radio, emergency cooking facilities and simple first aid kit are available.
- If houses are not safe or if elderly live in flood prone areas, or areas where they can be affected by a storm surge, remove them to a shelter or home where they will be comfortable and safe.
- Some elderly are like children. During a hurricane they will need extra love, care and re-assurance. Some will become very frightened and panic. It is important that they are kept calm.
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