LET THERE BE LIGHT (An Adventure with Emergency Preparedness and its urgent gadgets!)
At the height of the Power Outage this weekend, I began to worry about the state of my power dependence with all my major life functions like walking, sleeping, running for safety, running on electricity and battery power. I still had plenty of battery charge on my power chair so I could get about the condo but I was worried about our dead elevator should there be an emergency due to people using candles for light. And then, too, there was my bi-pap machine that needed a battery pack, oh and I had forgotten about my power bed!
The girls were worried about the food in the fridge and the entertainment sources like the TV, the Netflix, the computer, the radio, etc. They were agitating about the light and the microwave, the loss of the use of the landline. We were all also worried about powering up our cellphones of course! As soon as we could, we checked on our elevator to make sure that no one got trapped there and we also went to check on our senior neighbors on our floor. Our friends came over to bring food and we briefly began to enjoy the quiet of no TV and other electronic gadgets. But as the hours passed, my woes began as one of the girls began to agitate loudly and I had to follow up on calls made to DWP and other city services. I also waited for Apria Health Care for a battery pack for the bi-pap in case the outage would take longer than a day to repair. We started to secure our needs for more battery-powered lamps and batteries and when a kind neighbor came over, I asked him to check if there were portable generators for sale at Home Depot should we need them.
With whatever was left of my cellphone juice, I did some surfing on the net and saw some models for power generators. The kind I found was a portable oil-fueled, not-so-noisy Honda generator only as big as an ice chest that could give 8 hours of power to a power chair, cell phones, microwave, etc–just about all our gadgets! It was small enough to leave out on our porch and with a long cord, provide power to all our gadgets inside. But it was almost $1,000 and they did not have it at the store. What they had were the huge machines that roared really noisy! I did more research and found solar fueled ones and then the less expensive battery chargers.
While I was searching, my respiratory therapist called at 11:30 PM just to tell me that she could not offer any back up battery packs—that in fact by policy, they are not supposed to! So how do those really dependent on ventilators do in an emergency or an extended power outage? Do they just run out of luck and die? This gave me more impetus to search some more for better and better solutions and found a more quiet, apartment living power generator that can keep plugged to the power source on good days and that can provide clean power in a power outage! In an apartment setting, it is perfect for city dwellers like us. And it’s only a quarter of the price of the gas-powered generator! I was so relieved!
For emergency preparedness for our household, we already got our earthquake kits, our emergency food and water and now working on our power source! I called 911 to register our condo unit as needing emergency evacuation help in a disaster! I also found the wonderful evac chair made in Europe as one of the best evacuation chairs in the market! It’s a lightwieght, intelligently designed evacuation chair that would really come in handy for those unexpected situations and emergencies!
As the girls went to bed, I began to prepare to sleep too but forgot about my power bed! I’m more or less self sufficient using the power bed controls but without them, I need to prop myself up with pillows. I thought I had enough so I lay down. After a few minutes, I desperately needed to get up and everyone at home was asleep! I did not have the heart to wake them up so I struggled like an insect on its back, desperately trying to get to the upright position! In the dark and exhausted from problem solving, I finally gave in to the urge of belting out a cry of desperation, “God,” I pleaded, “please let there be light again!” And boom, to my utter surprise and perfect timing, the lights came back on!
–Lillibeth Navarro, 2/3/2016