Spotlight Columns

Applying the art of ‘Be Prepared’ to life

By From page A7 | September 06, 2017

Art, by definition, is “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination … producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.”

“Be Prepared” is the Scouting motto of both the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts of America. It first appeared in “Scouting for Boys” by Robert Baden-Powell Powell in 1908. To “Be Prepared,” the English soldier wrote, “means that you are always in a state of readiness in mind and body to do your duty.”

What is that duty?

Well, it means to use the resources at hand for ourselves and for others. That includes using one’s mind and thinking ahead. And thinking about the things that matter most.

Consider the “Art of Survival.” It’s really a fusion of “art” and “preparedness.” The application of human creative skill and imagination to produce a state of readiness in mind and body to care for oneself and others.

When disaster strikes
Over the past few weeks, America witnessed the value of being prepared when the unexpected occurs. Our neighbors, friends and family members in Texas and Louisiana faced — and continue to face — the destructive challenges caused by Hurricane Harvey. On television and social media the stories of families and individuals who lost everything are heart-rending.

A local friend moved to the Corpus Christi area a few years ago. She was a member of our local chamber of commerce and we keep in touch via the miracle of Facebook.

There, I learned how she survived the storm.

Like others, she saw the news reports detailing the slowly creeping tropical storm in the Gulf. With some coaching from her brother, she decided the morning before the storm made landfall to “hunker down and put on my big girl panties to experience my first tropical storm.”

She reasoned that it was only a Category 1 hurricane, and her neighborhood was not under an evacuation order.

“I had a false sense of bravery and if everyone else could do it, then … I could too,” she wrote. “Less than an hour later, CNN reported that Harvey would make landfall at a Category 3. Maybe a 4!”

That changed everything. She decided — on her own — to evacuate.

There are lessons we can draw from her experience.

Evaluate your situation
The Texas weatherman predicted a 12.5-foot storm surge, plus 30 inches of rain. My friend was already aware of the following stats: her house was 14 feet above sea level, three blocks from the Oso Bay and one block from a creek that flooded frequently.

“I didn’t like the numbers,” she said.

What is the situation at your home, at your workplace? Are fire or flood a realistic concern? What about an earthquake? Or a human-created disaster?

What change would it take to make you evacuate your home? When would you decide to actually leave?

Have a plan
Decide the location where you will go. Is it far away enough? Is there enough gas in the car to get you there?

Make a list
This is where “Be Prepared” really comes in. Think of the things that you truly need to do so you and your loved ones can survive. Make a checklist ahead of time. Laminate it if necessary.

Have copies of driver’s licenses, passports, insurance, etc.

Have an appropriate amount of cash stowed in a safe place. If electrical systems are down, plastic won’t work.

Remember the special needs of children, seniors and pets.

Gather mandatory prescription medications. If insulin pens are involved, make sure you have a cooler with ice and extra needles. Shelters may not have critical meds.

Have a “bug out bag” for each family member. This will have a change of clothes, flashlight, batteries, radio, water, food (MREs can be purchased online or at WinCo), large plastic trash bags and other personal items.

Remember the toilet paper.

Know where your bag(s) are stored.

There a numerous online resources for emergency preparedness. FEMA and Sacramento County have extensive sites. El Dorado County’s website is an additional local source of information. There are too many websites to list here, so use an online search engine.

Do this before an emergency, as websites have a tendency to crash when lots of people attempt to access them.

Contact others
If you can, let family know where you are going. And leave a message by or on the door to let potential rescuers know that you have left.

At the risk of sounding morbid, sign up online for the National Next of Kin Registry. This is a secure, national resource that provides authorities with your family’s contact information in the event of a catastrophe.

The NNKR saved one man’s life, according to the website. He had a heart attack and was away from home. The hospital contacted his wife because he had registered himself. She was able to travel to the hospital and make vital decisions with the physicians.

Be flexible
Do your best to take a positive attitude along with you. There will be unforeseen challenges. But the more resources you have, the more options you can put into play.

Including the freedom to help others who are in greater need.

What matters most
As we are all witnessing in Texas and Louisiana, the thing that matters most is: Life.

Possessions can be replaced. People can not.

Ultimately, it matters not what race, creed, gender, orientation or political orientation our fellow humans are — or any other thing that divides people.

When the entire community is at risk, Americans always pull together.

God bless those who step up when the chips are down. Whether it is with time, treasure or personal service … may we be there for one another. And should our time of need come, may our neighbors be there for each of us.

Send your event for consideration in Susan’s column to [email protected]

Susan Laird

Discussion | 2 comments

  • Tom paniaguaSeptember 06, 2017 - 8:49 am

    Very well done Sue as always:)

  • Susan LairdSeptember 06, 2017 - 3:29 pm

    Why, thank you, kind sir! :-)



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