I have a friend who actually does a lot of work in the emergency preparedness area, and who has been a part of the teams assisting people with disabilities in emergencies infinitely more serious than the one I encountered last night. But a night in the dark in my apartment building was definitely enough to make me think about emergency preparedness and about how much more vulnerable people with disabilities and chronic health conditions are in emergency situations…including myself, because my emergency preparedness plan simply isn’t good enough.
Emergencies in My Apartment Building
Due to the demographics in my area and the nature of my apartment building, most of the residents are seniors. Some are in very good health and, like me, require very little support to live in the building. Some aren’t in such good health, and rely on a lot of medical home supports and other community supports and/or support from family and friends to remain living independently. The management helps as much as they can by making sure that people sure that have lots of notice for events like maintenance work in the building and community (including planned power outages that are going to last for several hours) to make plans.
Of course, not every power outage is planned. But the unplanned ones rarely last long. Our hydro crews, for all our complaining, are very good at getting things back on track quickly. However, whatever knocked out our power last night did an especially good job – it was out from 8 pm last night to 4:30 am this morning.
Emergency Preparedness – I Need a Better Plan
My normal emergency preparedness plan for a situation like last night’s is to read until it gets too dark and then go to sleep until the power comes back on. But this time I was acutely aware of a few things:
- I’d been on the phone long-distance with a friend who was possibly going to be worried that I’d suddenly disappeared. I don’t have a cel phone. I couldn’t email her, because my modem was, of course, not working. I couldn’t even call her if I could track down a phone that worked, because her number was trapped in *my* phone, and I wasn’t sure I had it written down anywhere else.
- Going to my father’s was out of the question – how was I going to call him? I’ve only been without a cel phone for about a year, and feeling as cut off as I did last night was absolutely unnerving.
- I couldn’t find my flashlight and it was getting dark.
Emergency Preparedness – When Things are Unplanned
Important Things to Consider
How would I have handled all this a few years ago, when I was considerably less mobile? I don’t know that I even have a first aid kit if I fell now and hurt myself…