Most of us in Nova Scotia and in the rest of the Maritimes have been closely following the story of the senior gentleman that drove off the end of a ferry into a river in Cape Breton last week. With swift currents and ice hindering the search, it took more then a week to find the vehicle and it's driver at the bottom of the river. What I found most disturbing was that it took a few days before there was any idea of who might have been in the vehicle and it was 3 days before his family even knew he was missing.
As someone who has done a fair bit of solo travel, it reminded me how important it is to let someone know when and where you are going and when you'll be back. I'm not talking about everytime you leave the house but any time you'll be going away for a day or more, doesn't matter how old you are.
As we age and retire from the daily work routine, as partners pass away, children move out and we are left on our own, there is an increased risk of someone not noticing if something is amiss. More often, medical emergencies arise, leaving us unable to speak for ourselves or alerting help. There have been stories in the news of seniors being dead for weeks in their homes before being discovered, while rare and the extreme it is not out of the realm of possibility for some. If you don't have a regular routine that brings you in contact with others on a daily basis, find some way to check in with someone every day or two. Maybe chat with a neighbour, get involved with a senior's group or regularly call a distant family member or friend. If you live next to a senior that doesn't seem to have frequent visitors or go out much, maybe you could become their “lifeline”.
And, no matter what age, always, always, carry ID with you. Whether out walking the dog, going for a bike ride or just a quick run to the store. If something happens that you can't speak for yourself, emergency response will look for some identification. You might have seen an email going around that you should put an ICE (In case of emergency) contact on your cell phone for just such an instance.
While travelling, I carry a laminated photocopy of my passport ID page with emergency information on the back. That ID comes with me everywhere. When I travelled solo, I would always try to make friends with couples or groups of people wherever I was staying. I would make plans to meet up with them for a drink before dinner every day or have breakfast together. When I was going on an excursion to the Great Barrier Reef, I started chatting with a couple on our way out to the reef. There were a few hundred people on the boat so I asked that they meet me at a certain spot on the boat on the way back, just to make sure someone would know if I was missing. Of course this was only a few weeks after a couple had been left behind on a diving expedition to the reef and were never found.
“Call us when you get home.” My parents still request that we call when we arrive safely home. It only takes a minute and keeps them from worry. A good habit to get into.