As directors of senior living communities in Georgia and South Carolina, it’s crucial to have a comprehensive plan for unexpected weather events, especially winter storms. Though rare in our region, when severe weather strikes, it can have a substantial impact. The “Snowmageddon” of 2017 is a perfect example, where entire areas were shut down for weeks. Being prepared means ensuring not only the safety and comfort of our residents but also the well-being of your staff, particularly when they may need to stay longer than planned due to replacement staff being unable to reach the facility. This is what is called “Shelter in Place” to ensure adequate staff at all times—even when weather or other events prevent the next shift from coming in. In this article, I’ll share some things that you need to keep in mind to prepare for such events.
At Least 3 Days of Extra Food and Water for Residents and Staff
In anticipation of winter storms or other emergencies that may disrupt regular supply chains or access to essential services, it’s vital to have a sufficient stockpile of food and water on hand. This includes non-perishable items that require no cooking or refrigeration, such as canned goods, granola bars, and bottled water.
Food that Doesn’t Need Cooking
In the event of a power outage or other emergencies that limit cooking options, it’s essential to have a supply of non-perishable, ready-to-eat food items. These should be nutritious and require minimal preparation, catering to the dietary needs of both residents and staff. Stocking up on canned goods, high-energy snacks, and bottled water ensures everyone remains well-fed and hydrated during the storm. As always, make sure to have food that meets the dietary needs of the residents, especially for those who have diabetes.
Battery Operated Lights and Extra Batteries
Visibility is key in ensuring safety during a power outage. Having a sufficient supply of battery-operated lights, such as lanterns and flashlights, along with a large stock of batteries, will keep the facility well-lit and help prevent accidents.
Alternatives for Medical Equipment that Doesn’t Require Electricity
For residents who rely on electrically-powered medical equipment, it’s vital to have non-electric alternatives or backup power sources. This could include manual versions of medical devices or battery-operated equipment with ample battery supplies.
Alternatives for Heating that Doesn’t Require Electricity
Keeping everyone warm is a priority. In the absence of electric heating, consider safe, non-electric alternatives like space heaters that use propane or kerosene. However, it’s crucial to ensure proper ventilation and safety measures are in place to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Some propane heaters are rated for indoor use which can help with the ventilation issue.
Ice Melting Salt to Prevent Slips and Falls
Ice accumulation can be a significant hazard, especially for the elderly. Stocking up on ice-melting salt or sand ensures walkways and emergency exits remain safe and accessible.
Transportation Plan for Staff If Possible
Develop a transportation plan for staff members. This could involve coordinating with your drivers or private services for safe transport or even considering temporary accommodations closer to the facility for staff who might face dangerous commutes.
Toiletries for Staff in Case they Have to Spend the Night
Ensuring the comfort of staff who might need to stay overnight is essential. Providing basic toiletries, blankets, and perhaps even some temporary sleeping arrangements can make an unexpected stay much more comfortable.
Activities to Keep the Residents Active and Healthy
Lastly, keeping residents engaged and active during a storm is vital for their mental and physical well-being. Have a variety of activities planned that can be conducted indoors, such as board games, movie screenings, or simple exercise routines.
Preparation is key in managing the unexpected challenges posed by winter storms. By ensuring our facilities are well-equipped, we not only provide a safe environment for our residents but also support our dedicated staff members who may face extended hours during these challenging times. Another way to be more prepared is taking a Fire Safety class with us where we cover shelter in place, along with things like fire evacuations and prevention. Let’s work together to ensure our communities remain safe, comfortable, and resilient, no matter what the weather brings.