Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Last Sunday's intense thunder and hail storms tearing through the Midwest threatened 53 million people across ten states. In its wake it left tens of thousands without power. This one got personal as it tore into the town I once lived in, killing two, leveling houses, and ripping the steeple and roof off the church where my children were baptized. In the blink of an eye lives were changed forever.

I know the death toll could have been much worse if not for the fact the residents heeded the warnings and sought shelter. One couple who sought refuge in their basement emerged only to find their house completely destroyed. They remarked, "We may have lost everything, but stuff can be replaced."

Men, let us always be prepared.

Let us prepare our homes by having an evacuation plan, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers, and an emergency kit that includes water, light sources, radio, blankets, and a way to make noise if trapped under debris. On a personal note, I bought a flashlight powered by a crank that also juices a radio, produces an ear-splitting siren, and can charge a cell phone. That gadget is in my basement shelter since I live in an area prone to tornadoes.

If we live in the snowbelt we need to prepare our cars with food, blankets, shovel, kitty litter or sand, jumper cables, and tire chains. I found an app for my phone that will send a GPS signal to the nearest law enforcement station when I am stranded in the snow and cold. It will also -- now get this -- calculate how much fuel I can use before carbon monoxide poising sets in, and it will let me know how long I can run my engine for heat.

No matter where we live we should prepare our family with instructions and code words for places to meet after a disaster, how and when to dial 9-1-1, and our preferred modes of communication. My wife and I know we first try our cell phones, then Facebook, and then check with the relatives.

We need to maintain a working knowledge of first aid, emergency procedures, and how to act in times of disaster or unforeseen circumstances. Our family will look to us in moments such as these. It is best we remain calm, confident, knowledgeable and decisive -- even if we are not.

Now, especially, is the time to prepare. Heeding my own advice, I'm going to buy another fire extinguisher for the house. After all, Thanksgiving is coming, and one can never be over-prepared when it comes to turkey frying.

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