• Wake Up and Get Prepared

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    I live a very
    average suburban life similar to many people across the country.
    Commute to work, office job, suburban home with wife and kids. It’s
    easy to forget how fragile this lifestyle is and how little it takes
    to remove all the things you come to depend on. Recently I had an
    afternoon that showed me just how easy these conveniences can go
    away and the difference a little preparedness can make.

    After picking
    up my daughter from day care I drove home to find myself locked
    out of the house. We were having new keys made and I intended to
    go in through the garage. Just hit the automatic garage door opener
    hanging from the visor and I would be fine just like countless other
    times. However, when I tried the door opener nothing happened. I
    fiddled with the button for a while and tried to open it manually
    from the outside but had no luck.

    No big deal,
    I used my cell phone to call my father-in-law on the other side
    of town to come over with the spare key and let me in. My 15-month-old
    with a rapidly growing hunger was losing patience in the back but
    still its not the end of the world. When my father-in-law arrived
    a half hour later he was in a hurry to get back to cooking and couldn’t
    stay. After handing me the key I thanked him for his trouble and
    he was on his way.

    When I got
    into the house I discovered why garage door wouldn’t open.
    The power was out and it being early afternoon I didn’t notice
    from outside. It was also about 98 degrees outside that day with
    humidity that made the climate resemble the inside of a dogs mouth.
    The air conditioning must have failed some time in the morning so
    the house felt no better. I opened the windows to let the nonexistent
    breeze in and went to work on finding something to feed the now
    very hungry and very uncomfortable toddler.

    This was the
    day before grocery day so my options in the pantry were limited,
    add in the fact that the microwave and electric stove were inoperative
    and dinner for the baby became a balanced diet of Cheerios, a banana
    and luke warm milk. Doing the best to satisfy the kid with what
    we had I went about calling the power company to figure out what
    happened to the power. I quickly realized I dumped the phone book
    in the recycling bin a long time ago and without the internet I
    was forced to call information on my cell phone to find the number.

    ‘information’ is a very loosely given title where I live
    because it took an excruciatingly long time to find the number of
    the largest power company in the state. I had been on my phone a
    lot that day with work and the battery was almost dead by that point.
    By the time I got through to someone at the power company and discovered
    that they were aware the power was off and were working on the problem
    my phone had run out of juice.

    It was that
    that point that my hot, cranky and only partially fed toddler fell
    while running through the kitchen. Instead of springing back up
    like one of the 100 others times she fell that day she landed on
    her wrist with a nasty pop and started screaming her head off. Now
    I’m terrified trying to comfort her and examine her wrist.
    She is inconsolable, we’re both sweating bullets, and I have
    no phone to call my wife at work or anyone else for help. Not seeing
    any bones sticking out of her arm or other clear sings of impending
    death I ended up loading her in the car rushing across town to the
    in-laws. About a half hour later we were backing the loving embrace
    of modern civilization, enjoying air conditioning, cooked food and
    the comforting advice of her pediatrician.

    My daughter
    was fine after some baby Tylenol and a good nights’ sleep. The power
    was back by on dusk after a wire that was damaged by some tree trimmers
    was repaired. We went to the store the next day to get groceries
    for the next week and all was well. This was by no means a real
    emergency or crisis, the rest of the city and even most of my neighborhood
    had a normal night. But what if it wasn’t? What if the rest
    of the city had lost power also, or what if we weren’t able
    to drive all over the city to get the help we needed? This experience
    was very illustrative for me, and I hope it will be for you, as
    to how fragile our needs are and how much we come to depend on our
    modern conveniences.

    In retrospect
    I did many things wrong that night. I was counting on having a working
    garage door to get into my home instead of a key or some other way.
    Not having an adequate amount of food in the cupboard to get through
    a night without power was idiotic. A lack of knowledge for basic
    first aid is the most embarrassing realization I had that night.
    Without a phone to call a doctor or 911 I was on my own and if it
    had been a real emergency it could have been a disaster.

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    20, 2010

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