When I saw dad today, he was sitting in the lobby as he often is. The Assisted Living Facility had full power today. I was told the electricity was restored yesterday. I don’t know if dad even realized it had been out as the generator supplied enough to have some lights in every room and to run the kitchen and lobby lights.
I had brought dad more Depends and brought those down to his room. I always check around and saw he left me a note on a napkin. It said: “Provolone, Pretzels, Pepsi”. I put the napkin in my purse to remind me while I was at the store.
While my family seems to have escaped most of the Superstorm’s effects, others in our region have not been as lucky. There are still some families without power here in our town and the Red Cross set up a several shelters for them to keep warm. Of course, it is much worse in the metropolitan New York/New Jersey area and my heart goes out to the families and individuals involved.
I have been without electricity for more than a week as a result of a hurricane once and an ice storm once. It was enough to teach me to prepare in advance of any possible interruption of electricity and other services.
At this time I hope that those of you who have escaped the storm are able to contact family and friends still in the disaster area. I finally heard from most of my family and a few of my friends. Family members in the immediate disaster area don’t expect electricity for more than a week and are already getting cold.
They are searching for ways to recharge cell phones and other devices. They are also seeking ways to return their lives to normal while learning that schools, workplaces, doctors, post offices and libraries are all closed due to the lack of electricity.
I want to point out that you can make a donation to the American Red Cross at www.redcross.org This is one of many organizations that are always ready to help in small or large disasters. If you have another favorite charity such as through your church or community fund drive, please consider donating there. It is easier to view the destruction on television knowing I have done at least a little to mitigate the harm.
In addition, today I want to encourage all families, and especially those who care for small children or the elderly, to build your own disaster kit to keep at hand all the time in advance of hurricanes, winter storms, earthquakes and any other disasters expected in your area.
I was lucky enough to be employed by an agency that required all employees to be trained and ready for disasters. We were given a disaster kit to keep at work and encouraged to bring in our personal items to add to it, such as a week’s worth of prescription medications, an extra pair of eyeglasses, etc.
We were also encouraged to set up a home disaster kit with enough supplies for our immediate family to survive for 3 days or more without outside help. Lists of necessary supplies can be found at the Red Cross website in the disaster preparation section: http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/get-kit
The Red Cross also sells disaster supplies and individual and family kits. Or you can make your own. I have both a small individual kit and a larger backpack with items listed on the Red Cross page. I have a flashlight that works with a crank rather than batteries, and also a regular flashlight. I have a radio that works with a crank also and there is a regular radio in my kitchen that works with batteries in addition to the power plug.
I update some of the supplies regularly such as the prescription medications and the batteries. Otherwise the batteries would be out of date when I really needed them. I know a lot of people are starting to get angry with their local and state governments now that it is 3 days after the landfall of this huge storm.
Nevertheless, I think it is incumbent upon all of us to be prepared to sustain ourselves and our families for at least a week at survival levels with sufficient food and water and warm clothing. It is always nice if we are among the first to be rescued, to get back our electricity or to have a disaster supply station nearby when we need it.
But that usually won’t be the case. I have lived in states where the primary disaster expected was an earthquake and we prepared constantly for “The Big One” which will surely come some day but hasn’t yet.
I have also lived in states where hurricanes are the primary disaster expected, and sure enough I was hit by one big enough there, but actually only a category 1. So I know things might have been much worse. Now I no longer have children at home. I live alone but feel total responsibility for my father as well.
However, his primary care in a disaster is legally in the hands of his assisted living facility. Still, it is up to me to determine that they are up to the task and to be there if they are unable to provide safe care for him. I learned last year that in an instant he could be transferred to a hospital and then they are no longer responsible for his care.
I try to stay informed about what is happening at his assisted living facility and in my community as a whole. If there were a community wide disaster that required that we evacuate to another location, I would probably want to take dad with me to be sure I always know where he is.
I do not anticipate such an event, but I know such a thing is possible. I think about the people on television after hurricane Katrina and I know I would not have wanted my parents (who were both alive at that time) to be stuck in that situation where elderly people were literally dying from neglect because the entire system was overloaded with need and little relief was available.
So today’s post is to remind myself and my followers that we all have to be vigilant about the possibility of disasters at all times and to be prepared in advance. I actually filled my gas tank on Friday because of the storm since it wasn’t empty – just half full and I usually only fill it once a month. (Yes, I drive only locally and not that many miles.).
I also bought an extra 3 jugs of water even though I didn’t anticipate losing access to city water and I already had a case of individual bottles for normal use. The jugs of water will last for years now that I have stashed them in the garage. The other water I will use over time, though I tend to refill them from the filtered water jug I keep in the refrigerator.
The current storm has mostly past. Many people are still coping with the immediate disaster aftermath. If you just got back your electricity or you never lost it, now is the time to prepare for the next time. It is a good time to re-evaluate and determine what you absolutely need.
During the aftermath of the hurricane that I was in, over 10 years ago, while I sat in the dark, I made a list. I listed all the things I wished I had at hand, starting with more D batteries. I also listed foods, phone numbers and information that was on my computer but unavailable without electricity, etc. I used that list to start my first disaster kit. Over the years I have upgraded the kit and added new items.