Staying Safe During Severe Weather

See important steps for seniors to take before, during and after weather emergencies

Senior woman holding an umbrella and wearing a thick jacket and scarf during a cold-weather day

While natural disasters put everyone’s safety at risk, older adults in particular should be prepared before disaster strikes. Having a plan in place ahead of time can make all the difference for those with special medical or mobility needs.

Here are some ways to approach staying safe during emergency situations.

Create an emergency preparedness plan.

The first step to planning is knowing which natural disasters are most likely to occur where you live. Those living near a fault line may experience powerful tremors or full-blown earthquakes. Those in coastal areas are subject to hurricanes. Wildfires are common in dry, arid landscapes. For details on how to prepare for specific weather-related emergencies, visit

Once you’ve identified the potential threats in your area, it’s time to make your plan. Do you need to plot evacuation routes on a map? Create an emergency kit in case you need to ride out the situation at home? Compile a list of nearby emergency shelters and evacuation centers? To locate emergency shelters near you, visit

Share your plan with family, friends, neighbors and caregivers. Make a list of people you trust who are willing to lend a hand during a crisis. Complete an emergency-communications plan and include details on how you’ll stay connected during a power and/or internet outage. Keep cell phones, tablets and laptops charged.

Protect vital documents

Be sure to protect and make copies of important documents and records like the ones listed below. Store these in a fireproof/waterproof container and save a digital copy on your computer.

  • Drivers’ licenses, Social Security cards, passports and birth certificates
  • Health-insurance policies
  • Medical records
  • Property-insurance policies
  • Family and emergency contact information

Prepare emergency kits

An emergency kit contains all of the basic essentials you’ll need for several days. Keep one at home and one in the car so you’re prepared whether you stay in your house or evacuate during a natural disaster.

Should you stay or go?

During many weather disasters, local officials will advise residents to leave the area, and in some cases, evacuation may be mandatory. Watch for evacuation alerts on TV and radio stations, social media websites and your cell phone. You might even get a knock on your door from a public safety official to inform you of evacuation.

If evacuation isn’t mandatory, ask yourself if you’re better off sheltering in place or moving to an emergency shelter that’s equipped to handle natural disasters. Be realistic about your comfort and safety needs, medical needs, personal mobility and how much help you’ll need.

Download this emergency-preparedness checklist for a complete list of items and actions to consider for keeping yourself prepared and keeping your home safe.

Recovering from the storm

Serious natural disasters can damage or destroy your home and belongings. You may need to leave your home or find a new one. Many local, state and federal agencies, as well as non-profit organizations, are available to help with recovery needs when a natural disaster is over. For a list of groups that can provide assistance, contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) online or by phone at 1.800.621.3362.

Take comfort at Holiday with our industry-leading emergency response plan.

Holiday Willow Grove resident Robert P. has experienced it first hand.

In December of 2022, Robert was forced to evacuate his home at Holiday Willow Grove in North Carolina after freezing temperatures ruptured a water pipe and flooded the building.

“Water came out of the third-floor ceiling and rushed over the edge of the balcony into the atrium. It was flowing right out the front door.”

By the time Robert and his daughter returned from a steakhouse dinner, two buses were waiting to drive residents to a safe location.

“I was shocked how fast the staff reacted. They took good care of us.”

While many of the residents moved to homes of family and friends in the area, Robert chose to evacuate to a private studio apartment at a Holiday community nearby.

Staff members asked Robert what he needed to get through the crisis. Because he’d left his apartment so quickly, he asked for clothes.

“I only had what I was wearing,” he said.

The staff arranged to have Robert’s furniture moved from his flooded community to his temporary apartment and provided him with new clothing. Holiday employees rescued the smaller personal items he had left behind, storing them in protective vinyl bags until he returned home.

Repairs and restoration were soon finished, and Robert was able to return to his original apartment at Holiday Willow Grove.

“It felt good to be home.”

Severe weather can be more than an inconvenience

It can be dangerous if you’re not prepared or if you live alone. Power outages are common, and in extreme cases, they can go on for days or even weeks. Many older adults who live alone do not have a plan in place for staying safe and comfortable during an emergency situation.

Traveling to a safe space, stocking up on crucial supplies, evacuating and paying for repairs in the aftermath is often more difficult for older adults. Mobility issues, chronic health conditions and lack of help can increase an older person’s vulnerability.

Holiday residents like Robert don’t need to worry about those challenges. For over 50 years, we’ve kept the people who call us home comfortable no matter what the weather brings.

From hurricanes and tornadoes to blizzards, wildfires and floods, Holiday’s National Emergency Response Team is on standby 24/7, ready to be dispatched to affected communities, work with local authorities, and determine whether to evacuate or shelter in place.

No matter the location or situation, every Holiday community is equipped with a proven disaster plan and trained employees ready to help.

Each resident is also prepared with their own personal emergency-response device. Holiday is the only senior living provider that offers 24/7 emergency medical and personal assistance support through the Lively™ Mobile Plus device. With the push of a button, a resident can be instantly connected to a Lively Mobile certified agent for assistance. The device also offers driving directions and can connect residents with their family members. It’s just one more helpful tool our residents can use during a natural disaster. And it’s only at Holiday.

Community natural disaster prep

Every Holiday community is stocked with critical resources and at least two weeks of food, with business relationships in place that allow us to source even more if needed. Holiday communities are included in the same category of critical need as a hospital or school when it comes to supplies, such as food after a storm.

To ensure Holiday buildings are prepared to withstand storms, our maintenance employees stay on top of structural upkeep all year long. Trees are trimmed regularly to prevent loose branches from falling. Roof shingles are secured, debris is cleared, and any damages are repaired. If strong winds are in the forecast, outdoor furniture is relocated to prevent danger to residents.

Communicating with residents and families

As a storm or other emergency develops, we keep residents and their families updated through announcements, text messages, emails and communications from community management.

Sheltering in place

If evacuation isn’t necessary to ensure residents’ safety, employees keep spirits high by carrying on with our scheduled events and activities, meals, and even access to our salon and barber shop.

Evacuation plan

If evacuation is required, employees will assist residents with packing their clothes, medications and other necessities. Holiday has access to top-of-the-line chartered motorcoaches to transport residents comfortably and quickly to safe locations such as nearby sister communities or local hotels. Employees travel with residents to provide continuous support.

If a community is evacuated to a different Holiday location nearby, a welcome party is often arranged for the temporary new neighbors. Evacuation buses arrive to cheering, music and welcome signs. New friends are made over shared meals, activities and games. Every Holiday community is stocked with additional emergency supplies and specialized menus to make temporary residents comfortable while they’re away from home.

Return and recovery

If an evacuation occurs, residents and their families can rest assured that no one returns to the community until all damage is repaired, and overall conditions are deemed to be safe. Even if the surrounding neighborhood is still recovering and residents are hesitant to drive, they can utilize the community’s complimentary transportation to safely make appointments and run errands.

Holiday by Atria is here for residents and their families 365 days a year – before, during, and after the storm. Find a community near you and schedule a tour today.

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