30 October 2012

"Ready" is for the Other Guy...Until You Find You Aren't

Being prepared for a weather or seismic event cannot hurt. However, not being prepared can hurt and may impact others. Think outside the box here. A quiz follows.

I started to write this blog entry before Hurricane Sandy made its way up the East Coast, but my electricity went out. I do not have a UPS for my modem and router. You see, no one is ever completely prepared. Unfortunately time and money are key components to preparedness. But even with the best planning and preparation, there are many, many people who were and are affected horribly by this storm. My sincere sympathy and empathy to those who are suffering.

This piece is for those who are, thank G-d, safe and secure, but nevertheless did not think seriously about storm preparation. Maybe they will be unnecessary victims in the next weather or seismic event if they don't learn from this event.

Consider the world village - or even better, your own neighborhood. Let's say you don't think you need to be ready for a natural weather or seismic event because, you reason, the media is grossly exaggerating the conditions. You've never had a problem, you can just go to a hotel, your parents, kids, ex-spouse, etc. But, in the dark of night, you are startled awake by a loud "CRAAACK".  You reach for the nightstand lamp, but no power and no luck. 

You stub your toe on the exercise bike/clothes rack near the bedroom door. Groping your way on darkened stairs and shuffling into the kitchen, you fumble under the sink and find the flashlight. It weakly flickers "on" after a couple of palm-whacks. You don't curse your misfortune, because you know the batteries were left from a block party  a couple of years ago and the flashlight is one of those old, cheap-o plastic ones that your kid bought for $7.99 at his summer camp store a long time ago.

The slapping of rain and rustling leaves in the wind seem louder than past storms, almost like there is no wall between you and the downpour. Then you feel spray of water and the warm, moist air on your face. As you peer out the shaking kitchen window into a dark, suburban landscape, you make out the huge shade tree in your front yard - now a fallen gargantuan silhouette splintered through the attached garage where your car is parked. You open the garage passage door, torqued slightly and you see the separated wall from the house framing. As you peer at the dimly lit wreck through the pitch, branches, leaves and tempest; the flashlight predictably dims and dies.

So, there you are, no light, no car, rain pouring into your garage and house. Do you ask a neighbor for a couple of batteries? Call someone to come get you? Land-line phones are out, your cell phone is on the car seat, soaked.

Could you have left the area; packed a bag and gone somewhere? What if the power is out for days or weeks? Do you have a plan to deal with the emergent nature of this scenario? How will you contact your family, work, home, insurance providers, credit card companies, mortgage and other creditors, banks, etc. If you have a Plan "B", how will you get there and what resources will you have at your disposal? Do you have a "portable office" with back-up data, password keys, important numbers, etc. Cash, food (1,200 to 2,000 calories per day, water (1 gallon per day), meds, toiletries, cleaning supplies, clothes, shoes, etc.

If you don't have enough of the answers, please visit American Red Cross: Prepare an Emergency Plan No, there is no quiz. Just do it. Good luck, and thank you for taking care of business and being more self-sufficient. Help others who cannot prepare as you now have, send a GIFT TO THE AMERICAN RED CROSS*. American Red Cross
"Whether the weather be fair, nor whether the weather be not; whether the weather be cold, or whether the weather be hot; we'll weather the weather whatever the weather, whether we like it or not!" An olde Red Cross Aquatic & Small Craft School ditty.
*"The American National Red Cross is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Contributions to the American National Red Cross are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. The Red Cross' tax identification number is 53-196605."

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