Weathering a Winter Storm as a Caregiver

Caregivers, review this checklist before the weather gets bad.

Being without electricity is not an option for patients who rely on oxygen machines. Closed roads and stores mean no medications, food or supplies when there is a natural disaster.

Hospice teams that visit patients in their homes are well-versed in preparing for severe weather. They will bring extra medications and supplies before the storm hits to ensure their patients are never at risk. The team may even suggest a patient spend the duration of the storm in a hospice inpatient unit.

If the forecast calls for severe weather and you’re taking care of a seriously ill loved one, here are a few tips to help you weather the storm. In fact, Keep these tips in mind for any natural disaster, from fires to heat to hurricanes.

Be Prepared

  1. Well in advance, tell your power company if someone in the home is oxygen-dependent to receive priority service or the loan of a generator.
  2. Many communities offer programs in winter to help seniors with snow removal and heating costs.
  3. Post the phone numbers of the patient’s physician and hospice in or near your phone. Include the numbers of the local fire department, EMT and others you may need to contact in an emergency
  4. Make sure cell phones are fully charged in the event you cannot use your landline. Charge laptops, tablets and other devices.
  5. Ensure you have flashlights with working batteries. Have extra batteries on hand.
  6. Check that all smoke alarms have working batteries.
  7. If you use alternative heating such as kerosene, have a working carbon monoxide alarm.
  8. Keep bottled water on hand for drinking, cleaning, cooking; a gallon per person per day is recommended. Fill the bathtub with water for toilet flushing in case the power goes out.
  9. Have a battery-powered radio to stay up to date on weather conditions in your area.
  10. Fill your car’s tank with gas and maintain good winter tires.

If You Lose Power

  1. Keep the patient as warm as possible with extra clothing and blankets. Watch for shivering; this is the first sign the body is losing heat, which could mean hypothermia.
  2. Conserve heat by closing off all unused rooms.
  3. Place rolled up towels in cracks at the base of doors and windows.

Things to Remember

  1. If you must go outside, dress in layers; stay as dry as possible.
  2. When shoveling snow, avoid overexertion by taking frequent breaks.
  3. Drive only if absolutely necessary. If you must drive, stay on main roads and don’t travel alone.
  4. For more information on preparing for a winter emergencies, visit:

Find out if hospice care could help your loved one.

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