Before a storm hits
Carry out risk assessments
- Ask your care company if they have updated the RAG rating the person you support so you know how vulnerable they are.
- Ensure that every care plan has details of your client’s electricity and gas suppliers.
Get your client ready ahead of time
- Ensure the person you support has a supply of tinned products and easy to eat food that don’t require cooking, should there be no electric/gas supply. It’s also advisable they store some bottles of waters and cans of drinks should the mains water supply be affected.
- Help them to prepare and have an emergency kit inside a waterproof bag that can be easily accessed. This should contain at least a torch, spare batteries, emergency contact lists, foil blanket and first aid kit. Yoga mats are handy to have to hand in case someone needs to sit on the floor.
- Ensure medication is kept safe and near the person.
If the client you're supporting is vulnerable, they may be eligible to register for additional support from their utility providers like priority access to heating and cooking facilities, as well as storm updates. This support is something that you can help them apply for and is usually offered to those who:
- Are of state pension age
- Have a disability and/or have a long-term medical condition
- Are recovering from an injury
- Have a hearing or sign condition
- Have a mental health condition
- Are pregnant or have children under the age of 5
- Have extra communicational needs.
When the storm hits
When the heating goes out
- Ensure the person is kept warm – remember, multiple layers of clothing trap body heat more efficiently than one bulky layer. Hats and gloves are perfect here!
- Close all doors and windows, and try to seal any drafts.
- Make use of any portable radiators and heaters.
- Contact the person’s next of kin if needed to see if there’s anywhere the person can stay until their heating is fixed.
When there’s no power
- Support the person to light their home using torches, solar lanterns, candles etc., so that they can see their way around (remember to risk assess if someone is able to be left with candles/naked flames as this could put them at more risk). If you must use candles, keep them away from draughts and children.
- Switch off all electrical appliances, especially those that have heating elements.
- Unplug 'surge-sensitive' equipment, such as computers.
- Keep one light switch turned on so you know when the power returns.
- Ensure the person has access to food and drink that don’t require any refrigeration or cooking. Things like bread, spreads, fruit, vegetables and canned products are perfect.
- Should the person be without power for a considerable amount of time, it’s important that any perished food is disposed of e.g., anything that’s defrosted. If power is restored when frozen food is still cold to touch, less than 5°C, the food is safe to refreeze.
- Contact the person’s next of kin if needed to see if there is anywhere the person can stay until their power is fixed.
- Telephone your client’s electricity provider or check their website for status updates.
People will still require support with their personal care needs, and depending on the circumstances you could:
- Ask neighbours if they have access to warm water where you could fill a bowl/bucket or ask if the person you’re supporting could use their facilities
- Use baby wipes
- Heat water in a microwave, kettle or on a BBQ.
Whatever you do, think back to your risk assessments:
- Don’t over fill or carry containers/buckets that are too heavy
- Ensure water is not too hot to scald the person
- Don’t top up a bath with boiling water when someone is sat in it.
Stay safe out there!
Remember, adverse weather is dangerous, so make sure you take care of yourself so that you can take care of others. Keep plenty of food and fluid supplies in your car along with a fully charged mobile phone, car charger, hi-vis jacket and a blanket in case you get stranded anywhere. Drive slower than usual, quickly risk-assess routes, paths, homes etc and always ask for help if needed.