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Keeping an eye on elderly family members during hurricane season

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The Atlantic hurricane season started on June 1st and won’t finish until November 30. Already we’ve seen multiple hurricanes and tropical storms hit the eastern cost of the United States including Hurricane Alex (category 1), Tropical Storm Bonnie, Topical Storm Colin, and Hurricane Hermine (category 1).

As residents of Florida whether it’s all year or just part-time, we understand the risks of living here. Florida is one of the lowest-lying states! Just Like Family and many of our nurses and patients are located in Collier, Lee, and Charlotte Counties, with many people located just minutes from the Gulf of Mexico.

We see many retirees living here that don’t have a well-planned out strategy for what to do when the next storm hits. If you have a loved one in “Hurricane Alley” as many like to call this southeastern part of the US, be sure to write down some of these tips in order to help prepare them for any upcoming storms.

Supplies you need

The last thing you want to have to do is run out to Publix or Home Depot to pick up supplies right when a storm is announced. Everyone else in the town is doing the same and it is likely that popular items like bottled water, batteries, and ply wood could get sold out.

Stock up on these non-perishable items and have them on hand for emergencies.

These include items like:

  • Batteries
  • Radio
  • Flashlight
  • Bottled water (1 gallon per person per day)
  • First aid kit
  • Peanut butter & jelly
  • Canned food (ready to eat)
  • Energy bars, trail mix
  • Vitamins
  • Prescription drugs
  • Rain gear

The US Coast Guard has an in-depth list of items you can have on-hand in case of a storm.

Other ways to Prepare

Rather than worry about having to buy plywood and drill it onto the outside of your windows, invest in some storm shutters. These are especially helpful for the elderly as they are much easier to deploy when needed.

Have an emergency contact that lives nearby. If your loved one lives in Florida and you live in another state, you’ll want to have a contact you can trust that is willing to help your loved one during a storm. You’ll want to make sure that they have your phone number and all other contact information, and vice versa.

Create a plan in the case of a true emergency. If the time comes to evacuate, you will want to know exactly where they should be going. Do they need to go to a nearby shelter? Can someone pick them up and drive with them to a safe city outside of the path of the storm? These are all things you should discuss before the time comes. The last thing you need is to have to make last-minute decisions during an emergency.

Get your loved one a cell phone. If they don’t have one already, and prefer to use a landline, you should purchase a cheap elderly-friendly phone like the Jitterbug. They should have one just in case of anything.


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Getting Ready for Hurricane Season

Already we have seen a storm approach as we hit hurricane season. Tropical Storm Danny is the fourth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, though it’s no longer a hurricane. It has yet to hit the US, but it is unlikely it will develop into a hurricane.

This is good news for us in Southwest Florida, aka Hurricane Alley. We are no strangers to hurricanes, although we have had relatively mild hurricane seasons in the past few years. Over the last 9 years, the US hasn’t seen a hurricane higher than a Category 3 (these storms go up to 5). Experts are predicting a 90% chance of a below-normal hurricane season this year (NOAA Climate Prediction Center). This is great news!

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare. It’s always best to be safe, have supplies on hand, and have an escape plan in place. It’s estimated that of the 6-10 named storms for this season, only 1-4 are likely to become hurricanes.

Hurricanes bring with them heavy rains, flooding, and devastating wind. Even if you have been through hurricanes already, you shouldn’t take them lightly. These storms can change strength and course very quickly, giving you little time to prepare.

It’s especially important to ensure that older Americans are well prepared and taken care of in the case of an emergency.

The Red Cross has created a great checklist to help you prepare for a storm. So get ready before another storm approaches.

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Plan for your Pets during Hurricane Season

(Photo credit: Weather Channel iWitness user Debra McCord)

(Photo credit: Weather Channel iWitness user Debra McCord)

It’s hurricane season in Southwest Florida and Just Like Family Home Care has a top notch check list for Seniors when it comes time to prepare for the big storm, but we also don’t want to forget about our four legged friends! At Just Like Family Home Care we know family includes everyone!

When it comes to making plans make sure you include all your family members even your furry loved ones. It’s not unusual for many pets to be abandoned following major hurricanes like Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Charley. It is very important to include your animals in your evacuation plan to make sure that they are taken care of.

Counties like Charlotte, Lee, and Collier have emergency shelters for families and their pets but space is often restricted to those in spots where evacuation is mandatory. Experts suggest to have a plan in place for a hurricane with your last resort seeking refuge at a pet friendly shelter.

Preparing for a hurricane is vital for the safety of your family and your pets. Pet owners need to make sure that they have everything they need for a pet friendly shelter when an emergency occurs. Owners need to have their pet’s vaccinations up to date. Remember, it takes a couple of week for most immunizations to become protective.

Owners will need an impact resistant crate that is sufficient size for each pet. As for your pets identification, you must to have your pets’ county licensing tag as well as an ID tag on their collars. As a general guide, pet owners should have a weeks worth of pet food in waterproof containers, a weeks worth of water and a few weeks worth of medications. Other things to consider are a bowl for water, bedding, chew toys, leash, proof of vaccinations, grooming items and a pet first-aid kit.

Click here for more information on Hurricane Preparedness for Your Pets


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Helping Seniors Prepare for Hurricane Season

Hurricane season is already upon us, as you saw with Hurricane Arthur hitting the Atlantic coast earlier this month. Being in Southwest Florida, it is essential that we make sure to plan ahead and have supplies ready just in case another storm comes our way. What would you do without electricity, water or a way to communicate? While hurricanes affect each and every one of us, senior citizens in particular can be more vulnerable and may need extra help in planning. Many Seniors are in good health, but aren’t quite as agile as they once were. Some have hearing or vision problems, others use a cane or wheelchair. Whatever the limitation, we at Just Like Family Home Care want to make sure our all of our clients are prepared. Whether it’s ensuring they have a full supply of their medications or making sure their supply bag is not too heavy, it’s important to get all the essentials squared away ahead of time.

THE KIT

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What are some of the first things you think of when putting together a supply kit? Of course food, water, and medicine. But, how much do all of these items weigh? It is best to put these supplies and other necessities in a bag with wheels for added convenience. Ensure the bag has copies of personal documents, contact info cards, and even a cell phone with an extra battery or charger in case.  This bag can be used as a “go” bag in case you or your family member must evacuate.
Water: a rule of thumb for water is one gallon per person, per day, with a two week supply for home and a three day supply for evacuation.

Food: The same rule of thumb for water goes for food, but make sure your food doesn’t require cooking.

Prescription Medication: You should have, at least, a two week supply of all prescription medications along with a list that includes dosage and any allergies. If you or your loved one use any special medical aids like oxygen, catheters, or electric wheelchairs, you need to be sure to have extra supplies for each.

Tools, Flashlights & Cash: You never know when the power will go out so it’s always a good idea to have a multi-purpose tool, flashlight with extra batteries, and manual can opener readily available. We recommend that Seniors have a whistle that can be used to call for help in case of an emergency.

Cash: Consider having cash stashed away because the loss of power will disable ATMs.

Important Papers: put all important papers in a waterproof container. These documents include, but are not limited to your driver’s license, special medical information, medical insurance and Medicare cards, insurance policies, family and physician contact numbers and a list of the style and serial numbers of any medical devices, i.e. pacemaker.

MAKE A PLAN

Be sure to discuss evacuations plans with your family ahead of time. In case you cannot return home, plan an evacuation route and a meeting place. This is especially crucial if you or your loved one uses a wheelchair or is bed ridden. Make sure you assign an out-of-town contact person, because after a natural disaster, it is often easier to make a long-distance phone call, than a local call.

Seniors and those who are disabled will typically need special assistance in order to evacuate. Many cities offer evacuation shelters and it is a good idea to determine your families criteria for when to evacuate ahead of time, so you’re not making this important decision in the middle of the hurricane. You will want to have this conversation as soon as possible, to ensure proper transportation and accommodations. This may mean going to a shelter, hotel, or relative’s home out of town.

Just Like Family Home Care Checklist:

1. _____ Important medical, family contact and insurance information, safe and secure

2. _____ Water ( Two week supply at home, three day supply if evacuating |1 gallon per person, per day)

3. _____ Food (2-week supply of nonperishable food at home, 3-day supply if evacuating)

4. _____ Non-electric can-opener

5. _____ Battery powered radio

6. _____ Flashlights

7. _____ Extra batteries

8. _____ Two-week supply of prescription medication & list that includes dosages and allergies

9. _____ Mosquito repellant

10. _____ First Aid Kit

11. _____ Water purification kit (tablets, plain chlorine and iodine)

12. _____ Pre-moistened towelettes

13. _____ Antibacterial wipes and/or hand sanitizer

14. _____ Walker, wheelchair, and other medical equipment (talk to medical equipment company prior to determine needs for battery or electric powered devices, register with the power company if electricity required for Oxygen or special needs)

If you evacuate, also take:

15. _____ Bedding

16. _____ Extra clothing and shoes

17. _____ Eyeglasses

18. _____ Folding chair or cot

19. _____ Extra hearing aid batteries

20. _____ Walker, wheelchair, and other medical equipment

21. _____ Important papers (in a waterproof container)

a. _____Driver’s license

b. _____ Special medical information

c. _____ Medical insurance and Medicare cards

d. _____ Insurance policies

e. _____ Family and physician contact numbers

f. _____ List of style and serial numbers of medical devices, i.e. pacemaker

Precious commodities before and after a storm:

22. _____ Cash, Ice, Charcoal, Wooden Matches, Grill


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The Sunshine State

We’ve made no secret of the fact that we’re proud to call Florida, the Sunshine State home, but let’s be honest: Florida gets overlooked a lot when people talk about interesting histories or facts about states.  Everyone’s too busy focusing on the weather and DisneyWorld!  It might be because although we’re geographically in the American South, Florida is very different culturally from the rest of the South unless you’re talking about the northernmost part of the state.  People don’t know where to place us!  So, in honor of the state we call home, here are 25 interesting facts and historical oddities about our state!

  1. The so-called “Five Flags of Florida” are the flags of the Spanish Empire (flown 1565-1763), the Kingdom of Great Britain (flown 1763-1784), Spain (flown 1784-1821), the Confederate States of America (flown 1861-1865), and the United States of America (flown 1784-1861 and 1865 to present).
  2. Clearwater, FL, is the most lightning-struck (per capita) city in the United States.
  3. Florida is the most visited state in the country, with nearly 80 million visitors every year.
  4. Florida produces more citrus fruit, tomatoes, green peppers, watermelons, sweetcorn and sugar than any other state.
  5. The muckland south of Lake Okeechobee is the largest body of organic soil on Earth.
  6. Lake Okeechobee is actually a massive sink hole, a gigantic indentation in the limestone bedrock of the state.
  7. The longest river sailboat race in the world is the Annual Mug Race, running 42 miles from Palatka, FL to Jacksonville, FL along the St. Johns River.
  8. The official state song, “Old Folks at Home (Suwannee River),” was written by Stephen Foster, who never set foot in Florida, and chose the river because he and his brother saw it on a map and decided it “sounded best.”
  9. Florida produces 75% of America’s oranges, and an absurd 40% of the entire planet’s supply of oranges!
  10. DeFuniak Springs, FL is home to one of the two almost perfectly round natural lakes in the world, Lake DeFuniak.
  11. Plant City, FL holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest strawberry shortcake: 827 square-feet, 6,000 pounds.
  12. Key West, FL has the highest average temperature of any municipality in the United States.
  13. The world’s first scheduled passenger service airline flight was flown in 1914 from St. Petersburg, FL to Tampa, FL.
  14. Mechanical refrigeration technology was invented in Apalachicola, FL in 1851 by Dr. John Gorrie.
  15. St. Augustine, FL is the oldest continuously inhabited non-native settlement in North America, founded in 1565 by Spanish admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés.
  16. The most active hurricane season in recorded history for Florida is a tie between 2004, when four full-fledged hurricanes, Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne, came ashore in the state, and 2005, when another four, Dennis, Katrina (yes, THAT Katrina), Rita and Wilma all came ashore here.
  17. Florida has the 4th largest state population in the county, the 4th largest state GDP in the country, and is the 4th largest state-level exporter in the country.
  18. The horse, which had been extinct in North America for about 10,000 years when the Europeans first arrived, was first reintroduced to the continent in Florida in 1538.
  19. Crystal River, FL is the only place in North America where it is legal to have a supervised swim with manatees.
  20. The world’s deepest freshwater spring is Wakulla Springs near Tallahassee, FL.
  21. “Florida” means “Feast of Flowers” in Spanish.
  22. Jacksonville is the largest city in Florida by population, with 836,507 people as of 2012, but Miami, the state’s second largest city by population, had 413,892 people in 2012 packed into less than 1/21 of Jacksonville’s land area!
  23. There were 1.6 million veterans living in Florida as of 2010, the second highest total in the country.
  24. The largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in the world is in Lakeland, FL.
  25. About half of all Major League Baseball teams have spring training in Florida, with teams organized into the informal “Grapefruit League.”


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High Hurricane Season

Well, with Tropical Storm Dorian on its way across the Atlantic, it seems evident that we’re about to plunge headlong into high hurricane season.  August, September and October are always the most active months, but in reality, how often do the storms hit our area directly?  Let’s take a quick look at the past ten hurricane seasons, some of the most active on record, to see.  Remember, tropical depressions become tropical storms, which become hurricanes, which become “major” hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5).

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Hurricane Prep for Seniors

Direct from Florida Power and Light, here are tips for senior citizens to stay safe during the Hurricane Season!

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What are my options if a hurricane approaches?

Plan A: STAY HOME.
If you don’t live in an evacuation zone or a manufactured/mobile home, stay home and take these
precautions:
  • Remain calm and gather all supplies that you will need EARLY
  • Establish a “safe room” in an interior room with no window. Bring needed supplies including battery-powered radio, flashlights, medication, food and drinking water into this room.
  • Make sure that your home is secure and shuttered, and that it can withstand a hurricane. Ask neighbors to
  • assist with preparations if necessary.
  • Make sure that a neighbor or someone in your family knows that you will be there.
Plan B: STAY WITH LOCAL FRIENDS.
If you plan to stay with family or friends during a hurricane, take these precautions:
  • Remain calm. Call them in advance. Make sure they will be ready for you.
  • Have a backup plan in case they are out of town.
  • Have the enclosed checklists completed outlining your needs.
  • Bring your own food, water, medicine supply and important papers with you.
  • If your loved one has dementia, ask to have a room just for you and your loved one. Ask them to take the same safety precautions you have in your home (e.g., hide sharp objects and poisons, limit access to exits, cover mirrors).
  • Notify your friends/family/neighbors of your evacuation plans.
Plan C: RELOCATE OUTSIDE THE AREA.
If you live in an evacuation zone and/or a mobile/manufactured home, you must relocate.
  • Remain calm. LEAVE EARLY and let others know where you are planning to go.
  • Have a full tank of gas and a current, easy-to-read map handy.
  • Know where you are going. If you are going to a hotel, make sure that you have a reservation, as many hotels, even a hundred miles away, will fill up quickly.
  • Have the enclosed checklists completed outlining your needs.
Plan D: GO TO A SHELTER.
If you plan on going to a shelter you may need to be prepared for an extended stay. Take these precautions:
  • Make arrangements for your pets EARLY – before hurricane season starts. Red Cross shelters do not allow pets. Ask your veterinarian if there are pet-friendly shelters in your area.
  • Prepare supplies that you can bring with you; e.g., IMPORTANT PAPERS, FOOD, WATER, medications, a change of clothes, snacks, personal hygiene supplies, etc. You may also need to bring a sleeping bag/folding cot. Please check with your shelter officials.
  • Make sure that the shelter you are going to is open and has space. Watch the local media for updates.
  • Bring your cell phone (if you have one) and your charger or extra batteries.
  • Notify your friends/family/neighbors of your evacuation plans.
  • In all cases, early preparation is the key to surviving a hurricane with as little discomfort as possible. If you need assistance at any point, be sure to contact your local social service agencies as early as possible, as agency employees will also be preparing for the hurricane and cannot assist you at the last minute!