People who are elderly or have special needs also require special care in an emergency, such as a hurricane. Here are six tips to help St. Petersburg residents who are elderly or have special needs prepare:
1.) Register for special assistance. If you will need to evacuate to a shelter and require special assistance, the city asks that you register in advance by calling 727-551-3822.
2.) Special equipment needs. If you require respirators or other electric dependant medical equipment, you should make prior medical arrangements with your physician. Florida law requires utility companies to offer a priority reconnection service for people with disabilities who use power-dependent equipment such as battery-operated wheelchairs or life-support systems. Call your utility company now, so you can be placed on a priority list.
3.) Educate yourself. The Pinellas County Office of Emergency Services offers a wealth of information for special needs and elderly citizens. If you will need assistance in an evacuation, you will need to fill out a form with the County Emergency Management Agency. Call Pinellas County Emergency Management at 727-464-3800 to receive a form by mail.
4.) Help for hearing-impaired: Having a battery-operated NOAA Weather Alert Radio can be helpful. There are specially-adapted models with flashing warning lights and liquid crystal readouts that indicate when tornado or hurricane warnings are active. For more information check out "Emergency Warnings for People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing" on the NOAA website.
5.) Make a list: The Pinellas County Emergency Management has a Special Needs Supply List online. People who use a motorized wheelchair or scooter, should have an extra battery on hand. If there is a visual impairment, store a talking (or Braille) clock, or large-print timepiece with extra batteries.
6.) Alert Tags: Be sure to wear medical alert tags at all times. It’s also helpful to write down emergency contacts, a list of medicines you take, and special instructions for emergency personnel. For example, write down a message on a card that says, "I am hard of hearing, please write instructions for me,” or “My medications are in the refrigerator.”