Emergency planning not always easy, but there’s time

BY RANDALL RIGSBEE, News + Record Staff
Posted 9/6/19

There are things I’m good at — I’m especially proud that I can include “juggler” on my resume, for instance — but preparing for emergencies isn’t one of them.

It’s a skill that, …

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Emergency planning not always easy, but there’s time

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There are things I’m good at — I’m especially proud that I can include “juggler” on my resume, for instance — but preparing for emergencies isn’t one of them.

It’s a skill that, despite umpteen winter storms and hurricanes that have pointed themselves in my direction over the years, I’ve not yet managed to fully master.

Of this fact, I’m not proud; but I cannot deny the evidence.

My worst offense occurred in 1996, as Hurricane Fran quickly approached. I readied myself — if you can call it that — for that storm by buying a supply of mostly perishable food at the grocery store. I’d waited late to make my grocery run and was navigating people-crowded and stock-depleted aisles, throwing whatever looked or sounded good into my shopping cart. In the grab-it-while-you-can heat of the moment I grabbed a lot of stuff that required refrigeration, most of which ended up, in the long, sweaty, back-to-basics aftermath of that devastating Category 3 storm, in the trash.

In spite of my poor planning, I survived Fran; and, not being entirely thick-skulled, learned from the experience.

That doesn’t mean I got good at it.

How much bottled water to buy? I’m never sure what’s too much or too little.

Ditto canned goods. Are a dozen cans of chicken noodle soup enough? Do I even like chicken noodle soup?

Thanks to my Fran experience, I instinctively steer myself away from meats, cheeses, milk and other things that require they be kept cool, but I still struggle with a tendency to make emergency food purchases as if I’m planning a weekend of Netflix and chilling, not surviving, as if drawn by magnet towards unhealthy snacks like sodas and chips. I don’t much crave those things under normal weather conditions, but let a hurricane head our way and I start thinking like an unrepentant couch potato.

And while I try to stay somewhat health-conscious in making storm prep purchases, that’s not easy, usually favoring non-perishable convenience foods like Vienna sausages or Ramen, both of which keep well and will keep you alive, but aren’t good for you.

And if the storm doesn’t come (and I’m always glad when it doesn’t), that leaves a pantry full of junk food I never really wanted to eat in the first place, certainly not on an average, non-stormy day.

And that’s just food. What about extra batteries? Medicine? Gassing up the car? Securing cash?

There’s a lot to think about, plan and execute when a major storm heads our way, or even just threatens to. And some of us simply don’t plan for these things very well.

But that doesn’t have to be.

It’s no accident that September, a month that has brought much misery over the years through natural and man-made chaos, is (since it was launched in 2004) National Preparedness Month. This year’s theme is “Prepared, Not Scared.”

Well-timed, the annual observation is something folks — especially folks like me — should pay attention to. Several government websites (FEMA, for instance) and many other reputable sources offer emergency prep check lists — I won’t double up on that information here — that are helpful to the planning-challenged; and if the pot may call the kettle black in this instance, I’d recommend everyone familiarize themselves now, before the grocery aisles and hardware stores turn chaotic.

As I write this, it’s unknown precisely what path Dorian — our most immediate current threat — may take. Whether Dorian brings us trouble or not, this calm before the storm is a good time to deliberately and smartly make sure we’re ready for any scenario.


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