Ohio weather can be unpredictable, but it doesn’t have to be surprising
March this year certainly has given us a sample of all that Ohio weather has to offer: from frigid cold to summer-like temperatures, from snow storms to severe thunderstorms, and everything in between. What’s more, forecasters say this roller coaster ride could continue for weeks. Predicting the weather in Ohio can be tricky, but being prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws at us doesn’t have to be.
March is National Severe Weather Emergency Month, and March 19 – 25, 2017, is Spring Severe Weather Awareness Week. The Ohio Department of Aging is joining with its partners in the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness (OCSWA) to call on all Ohioans and communities to be prepared for spring weather emergencies and have a plan that considers the unique needs of older adults. It starts with ensuring that you, your family members and your neighbors are aware of severe weather risks and have a plan to shelter safely in your home and access help when you need it.
Do you know the difference between a weather watch, a warning and an advisory? How about the difference between funnel cloud and a tornado? The OCSWA website can help you stay in-the-know about the most current terminology, and more importantly, what to do in the event that any of these weather events occur. It will also link you to valuable resources, apps and more.
It’s best to be prepared before severe weather happens. Every household should have an emergency kit with at least three days’ worth of supplies to help them remain safely in their home if they are unable to leave for some reason. Supplies should include an emergency kit with a battery operated radio, a flashlight and extra batteries, a loud signaling device, food that is easy to open and prepare, one gallon of water per person per day, extra blankets and a first aid kit. It’s also a good idea to have a cell phone and an extra battery pack for it as well.
Older adults and their caregivers should take a few extra things into consideration when assembling their emergency kits, such as a backup supply of daily medications and medical supplies (e.g., bandages, alcohol, etc.), access to necessary medical equipment and assistive devices, as well as spare batteries and written operating instructions for caregivers and emergency responders. Also, remember that you may not be able to respond to emergencies the same way you did when you were younger. For example, during a tornado warning, sheltering in an interior room with no windows, such as a bathroom, may be a quicker and safer option than heading to the basement.
In addition, older adults should designate a safe place to go if they need to leave their home because of an emergency. This should include where to go, such as to a family member’s, friend’s or neighbor’s home or a public shelter, and a plan to get there, if necessary. If you or your loved one receives services at home, such as meals on wheels or a home health aide, talk with your service provider or care manager about options during an emergency.
A community’s response to severe weather emergencies is crucial. When severe weather is in the forecast, is happening, or has just occurred, check in on older loved ones and neighbors. A simple call or visit will let them know someone cares and can help identify potentially dangerous situations. Check that they have basic supplies, such as food, water and medications. Ask if they have any illness, injury or care need that should be attended to. Determine if they have the ability to call someone for help if needed.
Your Area Agency on Aging provides resources that can help you or your older loved ones prepare, such as help accessing energy assistance and minor home repairs. They also can link you to important local resources during and after severe weather, including shelters, cooling centers and more. Call 1-866-243-5678 to be connected to the agency serving your community.
Ohio weather can be unpredictable, but it doesn’t have to be surprising. Plan now to keep yourself and your loved ones safe all year long.