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Safety in Extreme Weather Conditions
The seasonal weather changes can result in concerns that affect all of us. To prepare for the cold or warm months, especially when temperatures rise and energy concerns can result in potential power outages, the Clovis Senior Activity Center staff recommends that you prepare ahead of time. This page has several tips and resources to help keep you safe and healthy.
Seniors and/or persons with disabilities should prepare for possible power outages. Temporary “rolling blackouts” or more extensive outages caused by windstorms or other inclement weather conditions may inconvenience the general public, but seniors and people with significant disabilities who are sensitive to heat or cold because of age or health conditions are at greater risk when electrical power is unavailable.
Clovis Senior Center is recommending the following steps be taken by seniors and/or persons with disabilities or those who are in poor health or sensitive to extreme temperatures:
- Contact the local electrical utility company in advance about any specific needs regarding breathing machines or other life-sustaining devices that depend on electricity. If lack of electricity would create an immediate threat to life or safety, local public safety agencies should also be given advance notification. To expedite emergency response, house numbers should be readily visible from the street. (1-800-743-5000)
- For people using battery-powered mobility or breathing equipment, assure that batteries are fully charged each day. Contact your medical equipment provider now to be sure you have adequate power supply/back up support before you need it.
- Know your “cool friends”, establish a support network of friends and neighbors who can check in periodically if the power is out, to assure that assistance is available if needed.
- During hot weather, stay indoors and avoid extreme temperature changes. Prevent dehydration by drinking at least 6-8 glasses of fluids every day. Wear lightweight, light-colored and loose fitting clothing. Avoid any direct exposure to the sun. If you must go outside, wear sunscreen, a hat and conduct outdoor activities during the coolest part of the day.
- Cordless telephones may not work during a power outage, so consider keeping a standard phone plugged into a second phone jack in case it is ever needed. A cellular telephone is also a good backup option, but be aware that in a widespread emergency any communication network may quickly become overloaded with calls.
- Monitoring radio stations during emergency situations can help in determining the extent and probable duration of any electrical outages. Assure that a battery-operated radio is available for this purpose, with at least one set of extra batteries.
- Keep a flashlight or lantern equipped with fresh batteries within easy reach, so that there is some light immediately available if the power does go out. For people with limited reach or grasping ability, inexpensive battery-operated touch lamps are a good option. Such lights can be installed in areas of greatest use, and are small enough to be carried in an emergency. Do not use candles for light in an emergency, as they can be fire hazards.
- Store supplies of medicine and drinking water so they will be readily accessible in the event that there is a power outage; some household water supplies can be disrupted during blackouts. Assemble a 10-day supply of prescription medications and durable medical goods and store them in a convenient location, in the event that a prolonged electrical outage or other emergency should require evacuation. A copy of emergency contact numbers and current prescriptions should be stored in the same location.
- During Stage Three Alerts, monitor local television or radio news stations to determine if and where blackouts will occur. Check monthly electric utility bills to determine the applicable Power Block number, as that is usually how the blackout areas will be identified. Block 50 does not automatically mean you will be exempt. Watch for block number changes. If the Power Block number is not shown on the monthly bill, contact the local electric utility company to learn where that information is available. Remember find a “cool friend” and share the power outage event with someone you know.
- When an electrical outage does occur, turn off all appliances, computers and lights except for one that will indicate when power has been restored.
- Food Safety –Perishable food should not be held above 40 degrees for more than 2 hours. During a power outage, do not open the refrigerator or freezer, as an unopened refrigerator will keep food cold enough for a couple of hours. If the refrigerator was out for more than 2-4 hours, you are best to discard perishables.
- Be aware of days of extreme heat predictions by listening to the radio, TV and/or reading the newspaper.
- Stay indoors and avoid extreme temperature changes.
- Use air conditioners; swamp coolers or keep electrical fans running.
- Wear light colored, lightweight and loose fitting clothing.
- Have reserve supply of bottled water.
- Have flashlight/lantern available for lighting with extra supply of batteries.
- Develop a summer safety emergency plan including key information and phone numbers for family/friend contact, physician, hospital preference, pharmacy as well as a list of current medications and any allergies.
- Avoid heat exposure as much as possible.
- Make any necessary appointments for the doctor, shopping, etc. in the morning.
- Prevent dehydration by drinking at least 6-8 glasses of fluids every day.
- Know what to do when you get overheated and take heat seriously.
- Health concerns could occur with rise in temperature and may include heat cramps, heat fatigue, heat syncope, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke.
- For heat cramps, heat fatigue, or heat syncope you should stop the activity which caused the symptoms and strive to move to a cooler environment as feasible.
- If you have other medical concerns, you should contact your physician.
- For heat exhaustion, seek immediate medical attention. Do everything possible in the interim of medical advisement inclusive of moving to a cooler environment as feasible, minimize activity, drink water or juice, and use cool wet cloths on the body.
- Signs and symptoms of heat stroke include sudden high temperature, headache, rapid heart beat, difficulty breathing, rapid breathing, profuse sweating, muscle rigidity, confusion/altered mental status and/or possible seizures.
- For heat stroke, CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY, as this is a medical emergency. Be sure to move to a cooler environment as feasible, apply cold water compresses to the body or immerse your body in cool water while waiting for medical transport.
- When outdoors, remember to dress warmly.
- Wear loose fitting, layered, lightweight clothing. Mittens are warmer than gloves because fingers generate heat when they touch each other.
- Always wear a hat to protect against heat loss.
- To avoid slips and falls, wear boots that are non-skid.
- If you use a cane, replace the rubber tip before it is worn smooth or it will become slippery especially when wet.
- Keep your thermostat set to at least 65 degrees to prevent hypothermia and help prevent freezing pipes by maintaining a high enough temperature inside your walls.
- Eat warm & nutritious food like soups and stews to maintain body temperature.
- Remember your pets! Most outdoor pets should be brought inside when temperatures dip very low. Provide adequate shelter that is warm and dry along with additional food for pets that must stay outdoors.