Q: I know summer sometimes brings severe weather. What types of items should I include in an emergency kit?

LM

Answer: Emergencies can result from severe summer weather, and these situations tend to occur when least expected. Preparing ahead of time for the unexpected can limit the amount of stress you experience when dealing with a disastrous situation. We’ve provided some suggestions for items to keep in your emergency weather kit. Ideally, these items should be kept close together in a closet or tote for easy access when you need it.

  • A battery-powered radio with extra batteries
  • Cellular phones that have been charged and a backup cell phone charger if possible
  • Flashlights and/or a camping lantern with extra batteries and candles
  • Scissors, a pocketknife or a Swiss Army knife
  • A portable stove or propane grill for cooking and an ample supply of fuel
  • A supply of matches kept in a waterproof container or butane lighter(s)
  • A two-week supply of water, canned food, personal hygiene items, paper products and other non-perishable food items for each person (don’t forget to include a manual can/bottle opener, and eating/cooking utensils)
  • A two-week supply of pet food and other necessary items for your pet(s)
  • Baby items and toys, books and games if young children may be with you
  • Blankets, pillows, sleeping bags
  • A change of clothing per person — seasonal clothing, rain gear, warm clothing
  • A three-week supply of any medication and contact lens supplies
  • A first-aid kit containing anti-bacterial hand cleaner or hand wipes, Band-Aids, gauze, tape, anti-bacterial wound ointment, pain/fever medication, hydrogen peroxide, a thermometer, nail clippers, tweezers, cold/allergy medicine, face masks, vinyl gloves, cold packs, and any other first aid items

As you become aware that bad weather is approaching you may want to have a full tank of gasoline in all vehicles and a separate filled gas can in the event you need emergency fuel. It’s also important to make sure your cell phone is charged in the event you lose power.

Here are a few other safety tips that may be helpful during a hurricane, tornado or severe storm:

  • Stay tuned to local TV or radio stations for updates on the situation
  • Take shelter — the best place for safety is in a basement or a designated shelter — stay away from windows or glass doors during the storm
  • Store outside items such as flowerpots, lawn furniture, flags, yard decorations, etc. in the garage or inside the home
  • Secure your windows by placing a large X across them with duct tape
  • Fill up your bathtub and washing machine with water (for a supply of clean water for washing)
  • Do not stay in low-lying areas — move to higher ground or to a designated shelter
  • Make sure all persons in the house know the plan and where the supplies are stored

For more information about severe weather preparation and resources in our area please visit ReadyForsyth.org

Q: As I get older my eyes seem to get irritated and itchy more and more frequently. Should I be concerned?

NM

Answer: You may be experiencing what is known as “dry eye.” It is a condition that many people experience, especially as they reach their senior years. A person may begin to experience it if they are not producing enough quality tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. Typical symptoms of dry eye are pain, burning and irritation. You may feel a gritty or scratchy feeling as if something is in your eye. Dry eyes can even cause blurry vision.

Although dry eye can be uncomfortable and painful, it is usually not a dangerous health condition and is fairly easy to treat.

There are two main causes of dry eyes. The first is a decrease in the production of tears, which can be the result of various medical conditions, medication side effects, or simply as a part of the aging process. The second most common cause of dry eye is a lack of water in our tears. Tears are actually made up of three layers: oil, water and mucus. Each layer plays a role in the protection and nourishment of the outer eye. When there is insufficient water in the tears or if tears evaporate too quickly or do not spread over the cornea, dry eye symptoms can occur. Women may be more likely to experience dry eyes due to hormonal changes, such as menopause. Environmental conditions such as smoke, wind and dry climates can contribute to dry eyes, as well. Long-term use of contacts and some eye surgeries can also decrease tear production.

As with any eye issue, a visit to your optometrist is recommended. A routine eye exam can determine if you have dry eye and if so, your optometrist can provide treatment options that are best for you and that will help to keep your eyes healthy and comfortable. There are things you can do on your own too. Remember to blink regularly when reading or looking at a computer screen for long periods of time. Increase the humidity in the air with a humidifier. When outdoors wear sunglasses to reduce exposure to the wind and sun. Wraparound frames provide excellent coverage from the elements. Ask your optometrist if taking nutritional supplements could improve your tears. Lastly, be sure to stay hydrated and drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water a day.

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AgeWise is a weekly column compiled by staff of Senior Services Inc., a nonprofit organization in Winston-Salem. If you have a question, email agewise@seniorservicesinc.org or mail to Senior Services, 2895 Shorefair Drive, Winston-Salem, NC 27105.

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