We had a lightning storm that knocked out electricity for over an hour in my hometown shortly after sunset tonight. As I’ve been a small city dweller for over a decade, I forgot how dark it gets after dark, especially on cloudy nights. Since the power went out, I found myself sitting in the dark. But I was able to find my flashlights and battery powered emergency radio pretty quick. Rode out the black out listening to short wave weather radio and the local classic rock station. Now that the power is back on and so is my internet, I thought it would be rather appropriate to write a blog about emergency preparation while having a disability.
One thing people in my country learned the hard way during Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy was that a person can’t always count on emergency crews to get to them right away. Anymore a person and family has to be self sufficient for at least a few days in case of a major emergency. These emergencies could range from anything as mundane as a winter blizzard, a flood, the the unusual like a chemical leak or terrorist attack. People do need things like emergency radios, flashlights, a few days of bottled water, a few days of non perishable but easy to prepare food, blankets, a few changes of clothes, a few extra days of medications, at least one first aid kit, and maybe some lighters in case you need to start a fire. Everyone’s situation and needs are different. I don’t have candles as I live in a crowded apartment complex and that could be a fire hazard. But having a battery powered radio and flashlights are musts. You have to find out what’s going on outside your neighborhood in case an evacuation order is issued or if help is on the way.
Sure I got off real easy this time being without power for only part of an evening. But sometimes it’s a good reminder that things can and occasionally do go wrong. And that being prepared in case of emergency is a must.
It is my hope that the advice in this column never has to be used for more than a day or two of inconvenience like in case of a blizzard or a power outage. This post is going to be about being prepared for emergencies with a mental illness or disability. I probably should have posted this entry before the last blizzard hit the East Coast. But with a blizzard going to hit my part of the US coming, I think this is still relevant. Being prepared for possible emergencies can be overwhelming for some people. But as we have seen from previous emergencies, particularly natural disasters over the last several years, it is vital to be able to take care of yourself for a few days if necessary. It is also important to be aware of your surroundings. What follows is a short, though not definitive, list of things to have in case of emergencies if outside help can’t get to you for a few days.
A supply of non perishable food for several days as well as some bottled drinking water. It isn’t necessary to go overboard and be buying things through the internet (which can usually be found locally and is usually overpriced). But something as simple as beans and rice, canned foods like canned pasta and chili, or anything that just needs water. Foods like beef jerky that don’t require refrigeration are also handy. Essentially anything that doesn’t need refrigeration and requires little to no preparation are good. As far as bottled water goes, be sure to store it no longer than one year because the water tends to pick up a plastic like flavor to it.
Flashlights, batteries, a weather radio, extra blankets are always good things to have. So is cash on hand. This is not money to be spent except for emergencies. Also might come in handy in case there are economic problems and banks won’t allow more than a small amount to be withdrawn. It has happened in countries like Greece.
A first aid kit. This can be picked up at any pharmacy or general store. Hopefully you will never need it. But you’ll be glad if you have one and you get hurt or sick with no immediate access to medical treatment. Have one for your car and one for your house.
Especially important for people who have to take regular prescriptions (like myself), have at least one week of emergency supplies of all your prescription meds. This does not mean skipping doses until you have your back up. This means simply asking your doctor for a few samples. Be upfront with your doctor and they will be glad to help you out. But be sure to rotate these meds probably once a year. And be sure to update your emergency supply in case your meds get changed. Be sure to have a list of your medications and doses in your purse or wallet in case you have to go to the hospital and are unresponsive.
This is just a small generic list of things to have in case of an emergency that could leave you house bound and on your own for a couple days. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list. I’m not a wilderness survival expert or hardcore prepper, but I do believe it’s a good idea to always have emergency supplies and plans as a backup in case of natural disasters, fires, or just any kind of emergency that comes up.