PLAN B - Being Prepared!
By Jackie Pratt

I grew up in spending a lot of time with a grandmother who loved mottos or sayings. She would remind me: “A stitch in time saves nine.” And, most importantly she would remind me: “Always have a Plan B”. As I talk to fellow members of Neighborhood Falmouth, I have noticed Seniors with decades of life experience understand that life can change in an instant. Seniors also seem to have a lot of common sense because of their life experiences. So where does that show up in the area of preparedness?

We hear a lot about preparing for severe storms – both winter and summer. Oceans are rising and flooding is more frequent. We’ve also seen massive gas explosions and federal employees unpaid during a government shutdown. There are checklists galore. However, I remember shopping on my usual Tuesday with a storm coming and chatting with a few of my cronies. We had all noticed quite a few folks had stocked up on frozen microwaveable meals. Hamburger was also popular. We thought that was not going to be practical if the power was out. The staples of bread and milk may not be a good buy for a small household but most of us had bought crackers that stay crisp in packaging, and powdered milk.

Water was a popular purchase which we all agreed that was a smart move. I buy water regularly in large jugs and when a storm is forecast I fill them with tap water or Britta Water and freeze them. They become cold packs that keep the contents in my fridge cool for a while. We also noticed that we had bought bars of cheese, salami, hummus, carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, pita chips and canned 3 bean salad along with apples and oranges. I like a sweet for quick energy and will buy a small bag of gummies, because - how can you be depressed or afraid in the middle of a storm while eating gummy bears!

I have a friend who has a black belt in common sense. She puts all her emergency gear in a cooler with wheels. The gear she keeps includes: flashlights, batteries, cell phone, charger, a battery operated radio, a Swiss army knife and a small first aid kit. In smaller quarters, I keep the same on one shelf of my linen closet in my front hall. I also charge my cell phone when storm alerts begin and send my family emails since they tend to lose the number.

Years of experience have taught me to remember that not just the kitchen is impacted by a power outage. I remember a neighbor after Hurricane Bob struggling to find an ATM and an operative gas station. Before Bob made landfall, I packed “ go bags” of clothes, medicines, etc. for myself and my daughter. I still pack a “go bag” but also include my wallet with I.D., spare keys, emergency contacts and cash including quarters. I make sure I have a supply of medications and hygiene products. I may not be able to get out and even if I could, stores may not be open.

Because I need to use a wheelchair and cannot handle steps I am particularly conscious of my physical limitations. I am blessed to live in an apartment building with a generator that powers the heating (or cooling) of the halls, a community room with outlets and one elevator. I am part of Neighborhood Falmouth which provides me with a helpful community but I try to remember that I need to assess my desire to shelter in place versus my ability to shelter in place. Locally we have shelters and some even take pets. I would need to be transported there and, blessedly, CCRTA or Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority would do just that. Depending on space they will take pets in crates and luggage. You should call them to find out more about this service by calling to Dial-a Ride Transportation at 1-800-352-7155.

The CCRTA has often been part of my daily life Plan B. There is a Dial-A-Ride Service which is available for Seniors and Disabled people. It is fairly low cost but there are limitations and rules. Contact the above number for information on these programs or to find out about other CCRTA programs. There is also information online at: www.capecodrta.org.

I do want to mention how grateful I am to live in Falmouth. There has been a great deal of news coverage about the lack of safe, accessible transportation in some large cities. But here I have seen many local stores, banks, gas stations that try to open with skeleton crews and generators. In the power outage last winter I realized I live in an apartment building that came together as a community - the Landlord even brought in pizza.

I can think of one more Plan B everyone should think about. In the past, I had a huge life changing medical event. I had not considered dying because I was working two jobs, was getting a little older but... disaster hit. No matter what your age (over 18) you need to consider mortality. There are workshops, Death Café, and many brochures and books. Even my friends at Neighborhood Falmouth with the Falmouth Senior Center are hosting “Are You Ready?” meetings every month through June to help plan for end of life. My only child was living and working in Philadelphia as well as going to graduate school. She was so obviously worried but I don’t think we honestly thought through what would happen if my medical condition was actually much worse or if I died. As my Nana would say: “Get your ducks in a row.”

I hope this article isn’t scary; it isn’t intended to be. Nana also used to say: “When life hand you lemons -- make lemonade”. In other words—make the best of things. My favorite black belt Plan B Lady once lived where it heavily snowed. Snow drifted over the back door allowing it only open 5 inches. The family used the front door to come and go, and the back door became an impromptu wine cooler. One of my life’s favorite memories is of neighborhood –young and old—playing board games by flashlight.

Jackie Pratt is a Neighborhood Falmouth member and volunteer. Published 03/01/2019 Falmouth Enterprise

 

Neighborhood Falmouth is a local membership organization whose mission is to provide information and services so that members can live safely and comfortably in their own homes for as long as possible.

To serve as many members as possible, Neighborhood Falmouth is seeking additional volunteers. For more information, please call (508) 564-7543 or go online to neighborhoodfalmouth.org.