Small Treasures: Being Prepared

In the past few weeks, we have had Hurricane Sandy, winter storm Athena and yesterday around noon a water main broke that resulted in water for the whole city of Worcester being shut off last night while they worked on it. 

Amazingly, they worked through the night and it is fixed!

With each of these events, we gathered our “emergency” supplies together and checked flashlights, etc., charged everything up to 100% and waited. We were fortunate with the hurricane and the winter storm. The worst thing that happened was a long wait and a walk for me to get home from work. The city had so many accidents that schedules were off and some buses didn’t run.

The most noticeable change, for me personally, was a sense of security in knowing that we were prepared for most anything that could happen. We have some extra bottled water and food that is easy to prepare. I have a routine that is pretty quick when the news of an impending storm breaks, so I can have things together without much effort and not be stressed. We have wood for the stove, so we will be warm and can cook and none of us works far from home, so walking if needed isn’t an issue. If we had to leave home for an evacuation or disaster situation, our paperwork and “Go Bags” are ready with a few days of necessities.

At one time I would have thought that all of this preparation wasn’t necessary, as many people in New England also thought before these last couple of years. I find the comfort of being clear minded and ready for most any situation keeps the panic, impulsiveness, and fear of last minute chaos away.

I am not a “doomsday prepper”, I don’t have any thoughts of doom at all in what we are doing. We are just prepared in case we need to be. A couple of extra cans of soup or a case of water here and there when we shop for groceries is not inconvenient and we will use it should an emergency not arise, or a job is lost, or pay is reduced while I am out of work unexpectedly for 7 weeks (as I was this past Summer).

What I value most about these situations is the ability to keep as close to a normal day as possible without stress and having the calmness to prevent injury or accident that can sometimes happen in a hasty scramble at the last minute. We have all seen the tragic effects of Katrina, Irene, Sandy and the many other tornadoes, etc. of the past few years and I think it is just smart to gather important photos and documents together in a safe place (digital files too, if possible) and be able to continue on with life in the midst of an emergency. Honestly, it’s good to have the information together anyway, because everyday situations come up that require it.

One of the most helpful ideas I have ever read – was to think through and prepare for the worst case scenario – which for us would be evacuation and having to leave our home. If you prepare at that level and have a plan, paperwork, photos, small treasures, in order. Then when a storm comes, it’s just a matter of keeping a positive attitude. There isn’t any additional work needed. It’s already done.  

In the case of a large disaster like what has happened in New Jersey and New York with Hurricane Sandy…the Go Bag and getting your family to safety really is the only thing you can do. This is an individual decision and there are many different guidelines online if you need help planning a bag.  However, if in that bag you have important paperwork like birth certificates, marriage certificates, passports, financial information, etc. and you have copies of your favorite photos, some toiletries, a change of clothing, and some food and water, it won’t make the difficulty go away, but it will give you some comfort and strength in knowing that everything else can be replaced and what matters most is by your side. We each have a water proof bag with a few things in it that will get us through.

One thing that I thought of in planning is the small treasures that accumulate in our lives. One example for me is a little necklace I won for a story I wrote in 2ndgrade. It isn’t valuable to anyone but me, but I would take that with me. Photos of our family growing up would also be irreplaceable. Everyone’s small treasures are different. Something like this is a talisman to memories….which really are the treasures you keep with you. For children, a favorite blanket and toy keep something familiar, And for pets, a copy of rabies certificates and tags, as well as the things that will comfort them in a new place or during a power outage, etc. If you are prepared, once you and your family are safe, a little bit of home to comfort you will be necessary to gather the strength to rebuild.

The tie in, for me, to minimalism, living simply and with less, so loudly speaks to me here. I could easily gather the things of value to me and leave if I had to.  Once my family and dog are safe, there would be no thing in that house that I would die for.

Again, I find myself faced with the question of whether or not I want to work my whole life to just have more possessions when it seems that in the big picture of life, only the small treasures really matter…