Be Prepared

We here at Stir the Embers send our heartfelt condolences to all those affected by the recent shootings in Colorado and Wisconsin. You are in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.

The media attention around these events present the perfect opportunity to remind ourselves of what we can all do, right now, to increase our chances of staying safe in the event of an emergency. Whenever we see news reports of natural disasters or innocent victims being gunned down in public places our first thought might be to avoid going to those places. Sure, we can sit at home, afraid to fly on an airplane, go to the movie theater, drive on the freeway or go to the mall for fear that some harm will come to us, but is that any way to live? We can’t avoid all risk in life. Life itself is inherently risky, so rather than hiding or pretending it will never happen to us, I prefer to take the “pray to God but lock your car” approach to emergency preparedness and risk assessment.

I believe that we should take care of the things within our control and not obsess over the things that are beyond our control. For example, I can’t control whether or not we will have a major earthquake in Southern California, but I can take steps to ensure that I have a better chance of survival if an earthquake does occur. Rather than waste time and energy worrying about the fact that an earthquake might strike, I can make sure my emergency preparedness kit is ready to go, take a First Aid/CPR class, practice earthquake safety drills with my family, and make sure the heavy furniture in my house is secured. I choose to control the things I can and to not obsess over the things I can’t.

Here are three things you can do right now to help you be more prepared in case the unthinkable happens:

1. Have a plan – When you’re driving on the freeway, do you leave room around your car to make a quick, evasive maneuver? When you sit down in a restaurant or at a movie theater, do you look for the emergency exits in case of a fire? Have you made an emergency preparedness plan with your family? This isn’t “being paranoid,” it’s being smart. If an emergency does occur, things will be happening very fast and if you’ve taken the time to make a plan, you’re already ahead of the game.

2. Be prepared – Do you have an emergency preparedness kit? Do you have a working fire extinguisher in your house? Do you know your spouse/significant other’s cell phone number (or is it on speed dial so you never have to actually remember it or dial it)?

3. Be aware – Is your head buried in your smartphone when you’re out in public? Is the music in your headphones turned up so loudly that you can’t hear what’s going on around you? Do you pay attention to and heed that “still, small voice” in the back of your head that tells you when someone doesn’t seem right or when something seems a little off? Again, when the unthinkable happens, the more time you have to react, the better your chances of survival.

To paraphrase an old joke, “The question isn’t whether or not you’re paranoid (enough). The question is whether you’re prepared.”

Reply to: Reply to Bill Hatfield
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