Experts from The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration project an active 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through November 30. At senior living communities like Sunrise, preparing for natural disasters involves thoughtful planning from seasoned, multi-disciplinary teams in order to be ready to respond and support residents during a storm.
Here, we answer some common questions about how Sunrise prepares for and responds to hurricanes:
Does Sunrise have a policy on how to act in of the event of a hurricane?
In the event of a hurricane or other natural disasters, our primary goal is to help ensure the ongoing safety of residents, while striving to maintain a quality level of service and comfort.
We’ve developed guidelines based on recommendations from local authorities and health organizations, as well as from our own extensive experience with storms. Our communities build upon these guidelines to create customized hurricane preparedness plans for their specific situations. Sunrise has more than 35 years of experience in disaster preparedness and recovery.
How do Sunrise communities decide whether or not to evacuate during a hurricane?
Our default plan is to “shelter in place,” as our buildings are constructed to withstand high winds and major flooding. Evacuating also puts additional physical stress on frailer seniors, and this is one of the reasons we prefer to shelter in place and help keep residents comfortable within their own home. We may, however, decide to evacuate depending on criteria such as projections of landfall location, wind speed, storm surge, flood zone, communications from local authorities and other factors. We keep a vigilant eye on the latest weather reports and remain in constant contact both internally and with local and state authorities to best understand the nature of the situation and stay abreast of all emergency-related updates. We will follow local authority standards if a mandatory evacuation order is issued.
How do communities help keep residents safe and comfortable if they decide to shelter in place?
Communities that shelter in place have a multiple-day supply of prescription medications, medical supplies, food, and drinking water to help bring continuity of care to residents. In the event of a power outage, emergency equipment including electrical generators capable of powering essential systems like lighting and air conditioning, are available to each community and are often pre-staged in anticipation of a storm. If an outage does occur, our team members will work to prepare the requisite accommodations so that regular services can continue with little or no interruption. If necessary, residents will be relocated to main common areas in times of high wind, rain, or hail.
Team will members continue to provide care throughout the storm, and many may even bring their own families to shelter in place at the community if Sunrise is a safer option than staying at home.
If an evacuation becomes necessary, where do you go?
Sunrise coordinates the operation from beginning to end, ensuring that residents are moved out of harm’s way and to a safe location away from the path of the storm. In most cases, both residents and team members will be transitioned temporarily to another nearby Sunrise community.
Transitioning from one Sunrise community to another provides a familiar, comfortable environment for residents and can help to alleviate anxiousness in a potentially stressful situation. And for family members, we’ve heard that knowing their loved ones are in a safe environment and will continue to receive individualized care and programming from the very same Sunrise team members helps to ease their minds, too.
How can family members check in on their loved ones at Sunrise during a natural disaster?
Our primary focus is the safety and comfort of each resident. We also know that family communication is very important, and we work to keep family members informed as often as possible, which includes sharing general updates on our community websites and calling or emailing families.
How can short-term stays be a helpful option for families?
A short-term stay is usually recommended for a senior recovering from a hospital visit or other health-related circumstances. But it’s also an option for a senior who may be safer at one of our communities rather than in their own home during a hurricane. Short-term stays allow seniors to receive ready access to food, water, medical supplies, electricity, and companionship during a time when traveling is difficult. It provides peace of mind to families who may be making their own preparations for a storm, allowing them to focus on their homes while Sunrise provides their loved one with quality care, meals, and more.
How does a Sunrise community recover after a storm?
Sunrise team members will do everything possible to help the community recover as quickly as possible after a hurricane. This includes any necessary clean-up efforts and conducting safety checks of buildings to ensure the community is ready to welcome residents back home.
No matter the situation, Sunrise team members help residents weather the storm in as much comfort as possible and work to quickly return their community to the warm, familiar atmosphere that residents love.
Are you prepared for a hurricane or natural disaster? Visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) hurricane readiness guide for tips on how to prepare and stay safe from the threat of a hurricane.
For more information about Sunrise or our respite care options, contact the Sunrise community nearest you to speak with a Senior Resource Counselor today!