top of page

Storm Preparation For Individuals with Disabilities

Tree fell over car during spring storm in Wausau 2017

Early Monday morning, around 1 am, a storm blew through Wausau.  Later it was confirmed that an EF-1 tornado touched down close to my neighborhood.  Although this is a milder tornado, it certainly did not feel mild to me!  I am a huge chicken when it comes to storms!  I also discovered that Sully, my crazed cat, also is not a fan of tornadoes.

One of the most concerning aspects of Monday’s storm was the fact I was already in bed for the night.  I am unable to get in and out of bed on my own, so I could not seek proper shelter.  My bed is close to the window and there were times when it seemed like my window was going to explode!  I would have been sprayed with glass if that happened.

Life Link Response

I have Aspirus Lifeline, which is a service like the Medical Alert system you see on TV.  I am sure you have seen the “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” commercials.  I did not have to push my emergency button, which is a good thing since it was not working! My system has a backup battery in case of power outages, so that was not the problem.  The issue arose from my cable!  My cable service includes my phone, so when Charter is down, my landline is useless.  This is an issue we have never encountered before.

Large tree down on Campus Dr. in Wausau after Spring 2017 storm

I do have a cell phone, which I take to bed with me every night.  However, the Lifeline is my cell phone backup.  It is never a good thing to have your backup plan fall through before your original plan!  My cerebral palsy makes me extra clumsy and I tend to drop my phone quite a bit.

My mom had no idea how bad the storm was until she drove over the next morning.  Trees were down everywhere!  One house on my street had at least six trees laying on top of it.  The assisted living facility on my street also had trees laying across their driveway.  My building lost one tree and we also had shingles fly off the roof.  Luckily, not a single person was injured.

When my mom and I discovered that my Lifeline was not working, we knew we needed to have a backup plan for the backup plan!  We came up with several ideas to make sure I am safe during and after a storm.  These safety precautions can be helpful for anyone who is disabled and living independently.

Large trees fallen on house after Spring 2017 storm in Wausau

Storm Safety Ideas

1. During the storm season, be diligent in checking the weather.  Most storms can be predicted and allow time for preparation.

2. If possible, have a friend or relative stay with you if a bad storm is predicted.  If there is supposed to be bad storms overnight, arrange to have someone spend the night with you.  This is what my mom and I decided to do from this point forward.  If we need to seek shelter, she can help get me out of bed and into my wheelchair.

3. Test your medical alert system before a big storm.  Your system may be out of service as a result of the storm, but it is still wise to do so.  Make sure your backup batteries are working, as power outages are a good possibility during a bad storm.

4. Test your smoke alarms before a storm rolls through.  Lightning strikes can cause fires.

5. Program your phone with the numbers of nearby friends and family.  If possible, have them on speed dial.  Let them know that you have them on your emergency call list.

Easy to access emergency contacts.

6. Arrange for several friends or family members to call you after a bad storm to check on your welfare.  If you don’t answer, they should know to come over and check on you.

7. Prepare an Emergency Kit.  My next post will give ideas of what this kit should contain.

Being prepared for the storm season is crucial, especially for individuals with disabilities.  In some cases, it could be a matter of life or death.  If you know someone with a disability, reach out to them and let them know you are willing to ride out the storm with them…literally!

Until next time, Keep Rollin’ and Keep Smilin’


bottom of page