As I write this at 10:18 PM, it's still 104 degrees at my house. Small airplanes are grounded because the air is too hot and thin to provide the lift needed to safely take off and land. I've seen photos of my friends making dashboard cookies
. This has been the second hottest weekend ever recorded in Phoenix having hit 121 yesterday. Youch. I was going to start by bragging that I had survived this weekend. Then the predicted dust storm blew up and suddenly my power flickered. Now there's concern.
My friend and fellow Reeve blogger, Mike Collins, wrote this excellent post
this week. I wasn't worried going into this weekend. I knew this record heat was expected and I prepared for it just as I used to prepare of winter storms in Chicago. I stock up on all essentials, laid in extra water and convenience items. Prepped my Netflix queue with mind-numbing entertainment to pass the time and stayed sheltered indoors, watched movies and worked.
Along with food, water, medicine and entertainment, I also stock some additional items. I've checked the batteries in my battery-powered fans, I double checked that I had back-ups. I freeze big blocks of ice to keep the dogs' bowls icy cold. I have evaporative cooling towels hydrated and stored in my frig. I keep myself hydrated too. My power failure back-up plan has always been to go out in my car and drive until I could find a room with AC. But, now I am without a vehicle and I am more or less stranded, so I spent part of my weekend reviewing my emergency plan.
In case of a community emergency, I know I cannot rely on a call to 911 for rescue. In case of a broad-scale emergency from alien invasion to catastrophic failure of the Valley's power grid, EMS will be stretched thin and response times could drag past the point where one can be rescued. Thus, I may have to figure out how to rescue myself. I have a plan, a backup plan and a contingency to that – just in case.
Along with my battery powered fans and flashlights, I keep a well-stocked 72 hour kit – enough food and water on hand to survive for 3 days (although a heat emergency isn't going to be solved by sheltering in place). I make a habit of not letting my gas tank fall below halfway. I have my medical history along with a list of medicines and important numbers stored in multiple places including on-line and with a friend. While that might sound extreme, in case of some unforeseen emergency, I want to make sure I'm as self-sufficient as possible so as not to endanger friends and loved ones who would have to come render aid.
I've also learned that in times of emergency, texting is more reliable than voice-to-voice use of the phone. Text uses a tiny bit of power and bandwidth compared to phone calls. So, I'm more likely to get through and conserve my battery to boot.
While I've worked on my personal plan for disaster recovery, many have not. This weekend as I lazed about my house to avoid instantaneously combusting the second I moved outdoors, I watched news stories about flooding and wildfire that have caused emergency evacuations. I have friends who are still dealing with the impact of Hurricane Sandy LAST YEAR. Memories of Katrina linger where more than half of the casualties were people with disability who either could not safely evacuate or in some instances, their bodies were unable to compensate for the additional stress placed upon them during the disaster- those individuals who got separated from critical life-saving medications or equipment.
It was Katrina that caused me to take interest in my Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC). Every state and US territory has one. My SILC takes disaster planning very seriously and has taken steps to ensure that the needs of PWD are considered in the state plan for emergency relief. We have a shelter cache of disposable medical equipment from some standard medications and catheters to gloves and such and some DME like shower/commode chairs, temporary beds instead of cots and more. Disaster drills in my state include PWD in the exercise. While I think we have room for improvement, I understand we're light years ahead of some other states.
So, what is your state's disaster plan? If you have to bug out and head for a shelter, does the shelter's emergency cache include any of the medications, supplies or equipment you require to function if you arrived without it? Is your shelter even wheelchair accessible? Although it's supposed to be settled policy, are you certain that they will transport and shelter your service dog?
It's worth the time to explore your state's plan and work to ensure that the functional needs of the entire community are being considered now, in the planning and preparation phases rather than in the heat of crisis. It makes sense to compile a 72 hour kit. Mine fits in a 5 gallon bucket and includes a bottle of bourbon and playing cards to help pass the time along with the recommended items. Don't worry; I rotate that bottle of bourbon every so often – oh, the food and water too.
As for me, living in the Phoenix valley, I don't face many natural disasters. Failure of our power grid seems the most likely large-scale emergency my valley might face. Losing power for an hour is inconvenient. Losing it for four hours is uncomfortable. Losing it for a day becomes a health crisis. Losing it for days or weeks or longer? That's a disaster; especially in 121 degree heat.
Take some time and get to know your community disaster plan.
© 2013 Jennifer Longdon |
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