A disconnected cell can help save your life

Did you know that a disconnected cell phone could save your life?

A disconnected cell phone can still dial 911 in case of an emergency. I gave the above flip top cell phone to my elderly mom and the disconnected smartphone to my son, who also uses it to play mobile games that have been downloaded on it.

A police officer once told me that a cell phone doesn’t have to be activated to dial 911 as long as the battery on the phone is charged.  I don’t think an operator will answer to take information about the type of assistance you need. But the cell phone’s built in global positioning system (GPS) will allow the police to track the phone to its exact location.

The officer offered this tidbit of information during a child safety outing that I organized for a mom’s group I belonged to. The officer told us that even if we think our children are too young to have an activated cell phone, we should consider giving any kid who knows how and why to dial 911 a cell phone in case the child believes he is lost or in danger.  He said his son learned first hand that it worked when he decided to test it.  Now he knows it’s not a game.

That got me thinking that what’s good for kids in danger can also be good for elderly and disabled people who live alone.  I know it’s hard for some to believe that anyone over the age of 10 would be without a cell phone nowadays. But many elderly people living on a fixed income cannot afford a cell phone. And many who can afford a cell phone don’t think it’s worth the expense if they rarely use it or have a land line.

But a cell phone, even one that is disconnected, could be the difference between life and death for an elderly or disabled person,  especially during a natural disaster.  Just this weekend, tornadoes ripped through Kansas and Oklahoma claiming homes and businesses.  Many people whose lives and property were spared were without electrical power for hours.  Some storms have left people without power for days.  In a situation like that an  elderly or disabled person who lives alone could use a disconnected cell phone to get help if they are hurt or stranded during a natural disaster.

I’m not saying it will be easy to convince an elderly person to  carry the mobile phone. Some seniors who are willing may forget to keep the phone charged.  But if their memory isn’t failing they can be trained to grab the phone if bad weather is imminent if they get into the habit of placing the cell phone at their bedside, on the table next to their favorite chair or in the basket or drawer where they keep their medicines.  It also wouldn’t hurt if you encouraged the practice when you visit or call.

So if you’ve recently upgraded your cellphone or are thinking about doing so, instead of tossing your old phone into a drawer or shipping it to be recycled,  consider this. Erase your contacts and other data and give it to an  elderly relative, friend or neighbor to have available in case of an emergency.

I'm a working wife and mom who takes care of an aging parent. Only I began doing it full-time, in my home, when I was in my mid-thirties, single and about to make a career change. Thirteen years later, mom is still living with me and I expect it to be that way until one of us leaves this earth. It hasn't always been easy managing her care. (I've helped my mother recover from surgery, and a major injury that required a nursing home stay, as well as the death of my younger brother after a long illness.) But caring for her has been worth it because I know that my assistance means she enjoys a better quality of life as she ages. I hope the experiences and information that I share will help you manage,with grace, the changes that take place in your life as you assume the responsibility of being your parent's caregiver. If you have a question you think I can answer, please contact me at Cynthia@motherskeeper.com

Posted in Caregiver tips, Home safety tips Tagged with: , , ,
5 comments on “A disconnected cell can help save your life
  1. Charlene says:

    I think this a marvelous idea. Especially those that are shut in and on a fixed income. I am now thinking about giving the numerous phones I have sitting in the drawer to the elderly in my church. Thanks for the info.

    • MMK says:

      That’s a great idea. If we all did that and that and told them the benefits,image what a difference we could make? It might even allow some elderly who are still able to feel safer while out and about.

  2. Genny says:

    This really is a fantastic article. You know seniors and the elderly already dont want to have cellphones and technology but a lot of phone that are designed just for them have 911 assist functions on them which is SOOO Important. I decided to get my mother who is 86 years young a Senior value cellphone by tracfone… FINALLY she accepted because the cost was something like under ten dollars a month. She was hesitant at first but the phone has been so great for her… she can actually see the screen and the buttons! It is made for seniors and I know that 911 and emergencies are easily accesible with the svc phone… and that was extremely important to me.

  3. Carmen says:

    This is a great idea about a disconnected phone. LIke Genny, I got my mom a Tracfone SVC. At $15 for the phone and less than $10 a month it is a real bargain, but it is great to know that it is of use even if we forget to recharge it.

  4. brinny says:

    The 911 location worked for my friend. She has a SVC Tracfone and is a diabetic. Diabetics can get low sugar and go into a coma – but they do have a warning. She felt weak and knew she would go into coma so she dialled 911. She was very confused and the location finder helped the paramedics find her. BRILLIANT! – a true life saver. To think that with the Tracfone SVC she only pays $7 a month to stay connected for all sorts of emergencies and gets free minutes too. Having a SVC is a good insurance for the elderly and those that aren’t too healthy and could have emergencies. Be like my friend (Val) and be cellphone wise! Since her incident I have insisted that all my family carry a SVC (including my children)