Hurricane Preparedness at Senior Living Communities

Mar 13, 2023

It has been forecasted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for the seventh consecutive year that the Atlantic basin will see between 14 and 21 named storms in 2023 across the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico.

According to state and federal standards, senior living communities must be prepared for hurricanes and have emergency action plans. In a hurricane emergency, Charter Senior Living prioritizes residents’ safety. You can rest assured that even in the event of a storm, their needs will be met.

Read on to learn more about hurricane preparedness at Charter Senior Living.

How Charter Senior Living Preps for the Storm Season

In addition to coastal flooding, hurricanes bring rain, flooding, tornadoes, and rip currents hundreds of miles inland. No matter where you live, you’ll want to be aware of how seniors can prepare for hurricanes or other disasters. It’s also a good idea to consult sites such as the National Institute on Aging and your local forecasting station if you want to stay prepared for severe weather.

If you have concerns about being safe in your home or keeping your loved one safe, read on to learn more about an exemplary example of a Charter Senior Living community going above and beyond for their residents during Hurricane Ian.

Know your hurricane risk.

A senior living community like Springwood Court, located in Fort Myers, FL, will understand the community’s risk. Every year, senior living communities must submit a Company Emergency Management Plan to state authorities that show the A, B, and even C plans they’ve put in place for various types of emergencies, according to Fran Gray, Executive Director of Springwood Court.

Hope for the best and plan for the worst,” says Fran. “You can never prepare enough, and communication is the true key to it all.” With over 23 years of experience with hurricanes like Charlie, Francis, and Irma, she’s seen a wide variety of storm categories. This means she’s been on the ground and helped develop a number of different strategies for hurricane prep.

Administrators and staff plan for the unexpected through policies, procedures, and readiness. Although no one can control the weather or other natural disasters that might occur, you can rest assured that risks are being assessed, prevention measures are being implemented, and if an emergency occurs, you’ll be informed. 

Recently, during Hurricane Ian in 2022, Springwood Court was without phone or internet for several days, but Fran was able to share messages with Charter senior leadership who were in contact with their residents’ loved ones through goHappy. Rather than evacuate, the lovely staff did everything possible to safeguard residents’ health and well-being.

Prepare shelter-in-place and evacuation plans.

To ensure adequate planning for both natural and man-made disasters and coordination between federal, state, tribal, regional, and local emergency preparedness systems, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has established guidelines. In keeping with these guidelines, Springwood Court created appropriate emergency plans and is prepared to implement them at a moment’s notice.

Both an evacuation and shelter plan will be on file for communities that may experience hurricane activity. Staffing levels and instructions on how to secure access to electricity, medicine, water and food are discussed in plans in the event of an emergency. For example, Springwood Court has relationships with hotels, hospitals, and rehabilitation centers that can offer food, transport, oxygen and more.

Fran says, “From experience, Springwood Court will only evacuate if completely necessary. Our evacuation plans describe protocols for a variety of situations.” These include:

  • Getting your loved one out safely
  • Coordinating transportation
  • Securing alternative shelter
  • Communicating with family members

Every year, shelter-in-place plans are reviewed and include steps for coping with power outages and shortages. There is planning in place to keep your loved one safe, as well as resources to provide continuity and stability, so whichever level of Charter Senior Living they’re in, you can rest assured your loved one will be safe.

Fran says that to ensure we can weather whatever Florida throws at us, we keep extra provisions and supplies on hand. Though only required to have three days of food and water, Springwood Court prepares by having more than seven days of food and water on hand for both staff and residents. And during Hurricane Ian, the community was well-prepared for any level of water due to regular sealing and maintenance performed to be certain they were as watertight as could be. 

Other senior living communities even contributed emergency supplies like water, Gatorade, rope and tarp to help stabilize things around the campus. Charter Senior Living’s owners then bought and donated furniture for displaced seniors who needed a new home in Ian’s wake. Managers even cleared trees that had fallen around campus.

Check to make sure that your residence is wind-resistant.

Cleaning your drains and gutters, clearing items from your yard that could be projectiles, and installing hurricane shutters are common home maintenance recommendations when preparing for a hurricane. In senior living communities like Springwood Court, maintenance staff handle these contingency plans, regularly updating disaster precautions as needed.

Choose an emergency plan that takes extra special care of your loved ones.

Preparing for hurricane season is an excellent time to review plans and procedures in case you need to shelter in place. When a storm is forecast, charge necessary devices – such as your cell phone – to keep them charged in case you lose power. Make sure they are up to date, make copies, and store them digitally with password protection. 

But in a senior living community like Charter Springwood Court, rest assured your loved one will be no more than a phone call away, as mentioned above. And when you can’t get in touch, know that Springwood Court’s satellite phone provides a lifeline to your loved one even if the internet goes down.

Hurricane Ian posed many challenges to the staff at Springwood Court, to which they rose beautifully. With infectious positivity, the staff organized emergency meals, water, and even singing and dancing to lift residents’ spirits. The team members then organized a food drive for area seniors affected by the storm and even went on to donate gifts to Mission United for Veterans.

We hope this information has given you a cursory idea of how Charter Senior Living prepares for the hurricane season. With a time-tested plan for disaster prep, Charter meets the needs of residents, rain or shine, with positivity and care. If you want to learn more about Charter Senior Living and its emergency preparedness plans, contact us today by calling 331.472.2078.