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