by Carol Higgins Taylor
Special to The Weekly
Summer storms are upon us, even spawning tornado warnings. And remember hurricane Arthur? We worry about winter storms and may have contingency plans but summer is proving to hold its own when it comes tumultuous weather conditions.
The high winds of a storm can knock out power in a flash so to speak. And while Emera Maine jumps into immediate action to restore service to its customers, sometimes we are left to our own devices for a while.
Nothing like pressing the coffeemaker’s “on” button only to have it go off again along with the toaster, which is housing your breakfast. Now while this is not an emergency, big storms that knock out power for days can be classified as an emergency situation. Unlike winter when the house would get pretty cold, being without power in the summer can pose problems, too. Your fans and air conditioner won’t work, which can make your house stifling in no time.
And you might have to evacuate if there are flood warnings. Best to have an emergency kit fully stocked and ready to go.
Admittedly, it can be overwhelming when you start compiling items for an emergency kit. But once you begin, it all makes sense. The first step is to get a canvas bag or large backpack that can be grabbed quickly. Even if you stay put, it’s good to have everything in one place.
Pack a list of medications, including a three-day supply, an extra pair of eyeglasses if possible and the glasses prescription, a list of allergies, medical conditions, emergency contact information, a first aid kit, a copy of identification such as a license, sample sizes of personal care items, and an alcohol based hand sanitizer. Also, pack some cash, nutritious nonperishable foods, a manual can opener, a battery operated radio, flashlights, extra batteries and an extra set of keys.
You also may need an extra hearing aid and possibly wheelchair batteries, oxygen, and a list of the model and serial numbers of any medical devices such as pacemakers.
Make sure your phone will work if the power is off. If you have a cordless phone that has a power pack, unplug it from the outlet. If you do not get a dial tone, think about getting an “old fashioned” phone that just plugs into the phone jack as a back-up, or invest in a cell phone. Just make sure the battery stays charged.
Some other helpful tips are:
• Arrange to have someone check on you. Perhaps devise a signal to alert your neighbors that something is wrong, such as hanging a hunter orange cloth on the front door.
• Plan escape routes from different areas of your home and then practice them often, especially with grandchildren.
• Have a contact out of the area or state. Sometimes it is easier to call away than locally.
• Plan ahead for disasters with any home health agencies that visit you regularly.
Now ask yourself these questions:
• Are my phone numbers up to date?
• Have I talked to my neighbors and family about what might happen in a blizzard, fire, flood, etc.
• How would I find out about a disaster if I lost power?
• How would I contact family members if the phone lines were down?
• What would I need if I couldn’t get out for a few days?
• Is there a family member who requires special accommodations?
• What are the most important things I need to have with me if I am forced to evacuate?
While it is next to impossible to be prepared for every situation, with a little forethought and effort you can be ready for most emergencies.
Carol Higgins Taylor is as an advocate for seniors and owns a public relations firm in Bangor. For information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.