It was perfectly ironic while I was at my first Community Emergency Response Training meeting, discussing disaster preparedness, to get a call from my son letting me know the neighborhood power was out. Just like losing your keys, or awaking to a car battery kaput, incidents like these always give the opportunity to test your preparedness and back-up plans. Without missing a beat, he accessed the flashlights.
I am a lucky Floor Warden at my BH office building, which means I attend preparedness meetings annually and oversee evacuation practices. I have amassed a lovely collection of orange vests. Knowing these things, though, I am still 100% guilty of having way too much on my walls at home which would not only impede pathways with plenty of unsecured stuff to cause problems at home in case of an earthquake, but also knock our heads upside down crazy.
We are warned, one is coming -- A big one! At the meeting, it was quoted "Earthquakes Don't Kill People, Buildings Do." I vow, again, to make the home earthquake safe.
I wouldn't light candles after an earthquake, as I explained to my son, with concerns for leaking gas, but for the power outage we did. I have a penchant for candles and keep a collection in the closet, and a few 120-hour tall ones from the surplus store for emergencies. (One of those candles made international news when I lit it outside the Beverly Hills Hilton for Whitney Houston.) Better they never be needed, but, in case of emergency, a 120-hour candle is a heavy hitter and holy, too, given the chance.
Coincidentally, I left the meeting with a CERT supplies bag (emergency swag), so I snapped out a 12-hour Green Light Stick which we hung in the hallway. My son finished his homework by candlelight while I stepped outside to soak in the dark and quiet, the electricity absent in the air. Unharmed, I didn't mind a bit.
Our cell phone batteries were dwindling. Most likely the power would resume shortly, I assured, and we would be able to recharge shortly, but to imagine a different scenario showed how quickly we could be without cell phones. We hooked up to back-up battery chargers.
Then came the rare chance to chat and hang out in our dimly lit, quiet rooms before bed.
Not long with my head on the pillow, the whir began again, the hum of the refrigerator, the fountain outdoors, the bleep of the cell phone, the outdoor lights, the sights and sounds that crowd over our calm on a daily basis.
I put on my night sleep mask and went back to bed.
The City of Beverly Hills Community Emergency Response Training (C.E.R.T.) is designed to teach a person to help themselves, family and neighbors in a disaster situation. For more information, e-mail CERT@Beverlyhills.org or call (310) 281-2754.