Post Hurricane Cleaning Tips – Part 1: Small Jobs

Post Hurricane Cleaning Tips – Part 1: Small Jobs

The hurricanes have given us a special reason to keep the homes and lives of our seniors clean and safe and sound.  This cleaning can be broken out into two types:  small jobs (quick, easy tasks) and big jobs (longer, deeper cleaning tasks).  This week we will cover the small jobs and next week the big jobs.  We can start by saying to the senior in our life, “we got through the hurricane, let’s do some cleaning.”  Make sure the seniors are involved in the process.  They can help with the easier, more sedentary tasks such as reviewing, sorting, filing, polishing, etc.

Many seniors have amassed a lifetime of possessions.  They often have so much that it clutters the house, making it difficult to clean.  Dusting alone is not enough, the ‘piles’ must be tackled.  Storage options must be identified to enable the senior to keep their prized possessions.  But, just don’t throw out items or decide on home repair, engage the seniors in the conversation, decision-making process and the cleaning activities.


And, it’s not just about this these fall cleaning jobs.  Take this opportunity to determine how the senior will continue to be safe once the tasks are done.  If you discover they have piles of unpaid bills, expired food in the pantry, medicines in the cabinet and/or pets have not been cleaned up after it may be time for some added weekly visits and possibly some extra help around the house.  If you need it, we can help with those conversations and situations.

  • Declutter – To be safe, seniors need to have an uncluttered environment. Clear clutter away from all walkways in and out of the home.  Shoes must be off the floor:  in a closet, in a shoe caddy, or other place.  Wires and cords (computer, television, telephone, medical equipment) need to be tied and put behind furniture to prevent tripping. Cords cannot be run under carpets.  Clean up all the trash and unnecessary papers. Recycle newspapers, catalogs and magazines (make sure you remove the address label to prevent possible identity theft).  Read everything before you throw or shred it to ensure it is not an important document. If there is not time to read everything, put what you can’t read in a ‘to-read’ pile.
  • Throw Rugs – Throw rugs are especially dangerous for seniors.  They lead to trips and falls; they need to be removed.
  • Medicine Cabinet – Clean out and sort.  Remove all expired prescription and over-the-counter drugs, medicines, ointments and lotions.
  • Kitchen Cabinets, Refrigerator, Freezer – Clean out and sort.  Remove all expired or rotten food.
  • Clean HVAC vent covers and filters – Unscrew HVAC vent covers, soak them in hot, soapy water, dry and return.  This will remove dust that is inside that makes breathing more difficult.  Change the filter in the HVAC unit every 90 days or sooner.
  • Electrical Outlets – Check all in each room.  Make sure they are in proper working order, are not damaged or loose.  Those not used should be covered with plastic plates.  Touch each outlet to check for warmth, look for flickering lights and sniff for unusual smells.  When in doubt, call an electrician.  And, if there ever is a spark or smoke, call an electrician immediately.
  • Security and/or Medical Alert System – Test the systems in every room to ensure they are in proper working order.  Contact the company if they are not.
  • Light Bulbs – Replace light bulbs where needed; seniors often need more light so you may want to increase the wattage.
  • Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Detectors’ Batteries – Batteries need to be changed twice a year. A common ‘rule of thumb’ is to change batteries in smoke detectors when you change the clocks.

Emergency Contact List – If there is no Emergency Contact List now is a good time to create one.  If there is one, make sure all information is accurate and completely up-to-date.