If you live on the Sunshine Coast, you know how frequent and extended power outages can be, especially during the winter months. Strong winds, heavy rain, and snow can cause trees and branches to fall on power lines, leaving thousands of customers in the dark. This can be especially challenging for our senior family members, who may live alone or in remote areas. How can we help them cope with the cold and isolation?
Here are some tips on how to prepare them for winter emergencies and keep them connected and safe.
- Make sure they have a backup source of heat, such as a fireplace, wood stove, or generator. Check that they have enough fuel and that the equipment is working properly. If they use electric heaters, make sure they have surge protectors and extension cords that are in good condition. You can also consider getting them battery-powered heaters or power banks that can charge their devices and appliances in case of an outage.
- Help them stock up on non-perishable food, water, and medications. They should have enough supplies to last at least three days, or longer if they live in a rural area. Make sure they have a manual can opener, a flashlight, and extra batteries. Place the flashlights in convenient locations, such as near their bed, bathroom, or kitchen, so they can easily find them in the dark.
- If they have any medical equipment that requires electricity, such as oxygen concentrators, CPAP machines, or nebulizers, make sure they have battery backups or alternative power sources. Check that the batteries are fully charged and that the equipment is functioning well. You can also contact their health care provider or local emergency services to see if they offer any assistance or resources for seniors with medical needs.
- Create a communication plan with them. Set up a regular phone call or text message to check on them during a storm or outage. If possible, provide them with a cell phone or a landline phone that does not require electricity. You can also use social media or email to stay in touch.
- Encourage them to stay active and social. Physical and mental health are important for seniors, especially during the winter months. Suggest some indoor activities that they can do, such as reading, puzzles, crafts, or games. If they have neighbors or friends nearby, encourage them to visit them or invite them over for a cup of tea or coffee.
- Offer your help and support. If you live close by, offer to shovel their driveway, bring them groceries, or drive them to appointments. If you live far away, ask someone you trust who lives near them to do the same. Let them know that you care about them and that they are not alone.