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Friday, August 26, 2011

Preparedness vs. Panic

We are in preparedness mode today as Hurricane Irene starts to make her way up the East Coast. Certainly in parts of the U.S., the urgency to be prepared is increased. Parts of the coastline that aren't used to getting that much in the way of hurricane activity are in the path of this pretty big storm.

I have spent the day in emergency manager role, and it seems for the most part people are on one of two ends of the scale. There are those that refuse to believe weather will affect them.  The "tough guy" approach. They laugh off preparedness plans and go about their day to day activities. They pack their tent in the truck and head out to the campground. Days later they be the same ones that are crying for rescue and putting others in danger to get them out, surprised that their pup tent was hurricane proof!

Then there are people at the other end of the scale. They become glued to the weather station and watch report after report of the high winds and rain that is hitting places quite distant from them. They ask everyone they know whether or not the storm is going to hit. They listen to every different report, concerned over the discrepancies between reporting.  For some people, this heavy vigilance turns into a bit of a panic sensation and they develop a pretty heavy sense of fear and dread. Some of these people go out and  store bread, milk and water in massive quantities  they could never use, "just in case". Others miss the store hours they are so focused on watching the reports.

As with everything in life I guess, preparedness is about finding the balance. Preparedness for storms means you consider the impacts. You can't plan for a hurricane. You plan for high winds, heavy rain and storm surge that might take out your utilities (power, phone, e-gulp! computer & T.V), and cause some property damage.  When you think about those impacts, it's seems logical to take in the lawn chairs- if not to save the chairs, to save your neighbours head when they hurtling across the street!  It makes sense to tie some things down. If you like bread (that isn't toasted because the power might be out) and figure you could live off bread for a few days- it might make sense to stock up.  It definitely could be a good chance to inventory your fridge and cupboards and consider what groceries you  need so that you and your family could eat reasonably for a few days if roads were impassable, stores were closed, and the power was off (that means, no toaster, microwave and oven for most people!). If you're on a well system that requires power to pump it- storing water is essential. If not, and you have a outside source (municipal, town, city etc.) you might not need to store water at all- it will likely still come out your tap.  The point is, the things we do to prepare should be individual and a match for how we might be impacted and what is important to us. Hmm..

Sounds like basic life lessons again.  If you have a sense of fear that "something" might happen to you in the future, you have a couple of options. You can ignore the warnings and just bury your head and decide it won't happen.  That's the "storms never actually turn into anything" approach. If it does happen someone will come and rescue you. Hmm..

Another option is to decide that absolutely this thing is going to happen and be catastrophic.  You can watch what is happening to others and become so fixated on the horrible things happening to others that you cower in a corner just anticipating it's arrival and do nothing tangible to stop it, except panic. Or you can run out and buy everything or do everything that you see other people doing. In life, instead of "bread and milk" I think this often becomes, vitamins, health fads, exercise equipment, security systems, and the "latest and greatest of everything:.

The balanced option is to turn your head away from the T.V., computer, or friend for a moment, and focus  on your fear. Once you face it, you can analyze it a bit. Think about the most likely impacts of the event (measure the threat and probability of it's occurrence).  One you've got it broken down into pieces, you match solutions to the pieces. This is the individual part. If you're okay with the power being out for a bit, you might want to buy a good flashlight some spare batteries, a box of crackers and a good book.  Might be all you need.  If you really need to run your electric fence, generate that report off your computer, have a shower, and power your well to have water, you might invest in a generator.  This is the logical emergency management approach, but I think it works whatever the source of the fear.

If you need some support when facing your fear, there are lots of Bach flowers that might help.  Mimulus, Aspen, Rock Rose, Red Chestnut, or Cherry Plum are all options. Plug in "fear" to the search bar at the top of my blog, and you'll find lots of past blogs that further define your options. If you think you need some help tap into the support systems before there is a "run on" these servcies and you can't get the help you need. If you need some help getting started visit my website

Once you're prepared for storms, if you still have some lingering sense of fear consider this past post.  Weather does affect us in many ways.

Once you're prepared, you don't have to be scared. You can "go with the flow" and enjoy being in the now. Enjoy the wind and rain and curl up with a great book! "Secondhand Spiritis" would be a great one to read in a storm

Stay safe and enjoy your journey!

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