Bushfires and the Vulnerable

Season for bushfires

I read an article on the bushfires, one which gave me pause to think in a deeper way. Currently making the headlines are bushfires in New South Wales, Australia. Two people have died as well as the homes which have been destroyed… and more. California has fires too, and it was an article about those fires which broadened my understanding.

People lose homes, stock (animals) and equipment, but the article pointed out the long period of time without power. Food can spoil, shops lose their stock, the vulnerable – those who are dependent on electricity to run medical equipment can lose their lives.

Bushfires burn out power lines

Because I need to use oxygen 24/7 power outages are something I have to plan for. My home is registered as having life-support equipment, and I have a backup oxygen cylinder but it had not occurred to me what would happen in a bushfire situation. The backup cylinder would not last more than half a day.

Fortunately, a bushfire is unlikely where I live, although not impossible. But what about those people living where there are fires? If they are unable to make it to a hospital which has enough oxygen they will die.

“But the biggest fears were for the sick and older residents and those who rely on medical devices and equipment like electric wheelchairs.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/10/us/california-power-outage.html

firemen after a bushfire

Preparing high risk bushfire zones…

“Every year before bushfire season, our crews are hard at work preparing high and extreme bushfire risk zones to reduce the likelihood of a network-related spark that could cause a fire.
https://westernpower.com.au/safety/bushfire-safety/

However, it is not only residents in high risk zones who might be impacted by a power outage as the result of a bushfire. As the article says, some of the regional power lines are hundreds of kilometres long. So, if you, or a friend or relative needs electricity to power medical equipment, or a home oxygen machine an emergency plan needs to be in place before one is needed. Plan ahead.

  • Ambulances might be busy
  • The nearest hospital might not have power

Only the person who needs electricity for a medical reason knows how long he or she will ‘last,’ but might need help with the planning.

Something to think about,

Susan

P.S.

Living at the end of an Oxygen Tube has a new cover.

Check it out https://www.susanprestonauthor.com/living-at-the-end-of-an-oxygen-tube

And another P.S. so it will be a PPS

https://kcbsradio.radio.com/media/audio-channel/el-dorado-county-man-living-oxygen-dies-shortly-after-blackout

Fortunately there was a bench there

Bench

The bench was in the small local shopping centre and my breathing was ‘about to give out’. I used the oximeter and the saturation of oxygen in my blood was below 50. Impossible, some would say… but not if you work in the Respiratory field. Still not good.

A little indigenous Australian woman sat on the other end of the bench and, when I could I gasped out a greeting. She was sitting checking a ‘scratchie’ – I don’t know what other people call them, but to us here in Western Australia that’s what they are. Tickets that have areas to be scratched off with a coin in the hope of winning a sum of money.

The woman was pleased, and said to me a few minutes later, “You brought me luck, I’ve won $20.00,” and went off happily to claim her money.

I sat on the bench waiting for my oxygen level to come up enough for me to be able to walk.

No ambulance for me; the hospitals are full of ‘flu victims. I doubt if there would be an ambulance available.

https://www.watoday.com.au/national/western-australia/emergency-department-staff-concerns-not-my-responsibility-wa-health-minister-20190314-p5149z.html

No, I waited until I could walk again.

My little shopping centre has more than one bench

To be honest, most times I go there, I travel from bench to bench. I’ve met many interesting people as I recovered my breath on one of them. Some people had back pain, others were breathless, but I have never sat beside another oxygen user.

(As I explain in my soon-to-be-released eBook, Living at the end of an Oxygen Tube, not everyone who has COPD or Heart Failure is prescribed oxygen.)

Click (or tap) the image if you want to read the page about it.

Why so bad today?

I can only assume it was the ash from the bushfires. (Strange time of year for them here, but the freeway south had to be closed for a time.)
https://www.perthnow.com.au/news/bushfires

Yesterday (Thursday) was very windy and I kept the doors open so that my oxygen concentrator had some fresh air. (To extract the nitrogen from.)

But I was in my study working on putting ‘Living at the end of an Oxygen Tube into a print template’… and that’s time-consuming. When I took a break in the afternoon to watch a quiz show I like, I noticed there was a film of dust on the table as I walked past. I had only cleaned it the day before.

When the quiz was over, I turned off the TV and my Support Worker arrived, complaining of the ash in the air.

The suburb where the fire was burning is a long way from where I live but that wind must have been driving the ash. Maxine had to wash the ash from the surfaces it had gathered on. It was sticky and did not want to be dusted off. I tried.

The filter for the concentrator had to be washed, but for the time until it dried – the house has been quiet. Just the puffing as I take a breath from the Portable one.

Well, it is time to do my next task, and I am posting this early because I am busy this weekend.

God bless you all… and may you find a bench to sit on when you need one.

Susan