Changing Circumstances

senior-coupleAs we enter the second half of National Preparedness Month, I hope that you’ve taken at least one action to make you and your loved ones more prepared emergencies. Making an emergency plan, being informed about your risks and building an emergency supply kit are critical to keeping yourself safe when disaster strikes.

If you find yourself in the small group of people who count themselves as fully prepared, I’ve got another important message for you. Preparedness isn’t a “fix it and forget it” activity. Life circumstances change, and it’s important that you revisit your emergency plans to make sure that they keep pace with those changes.

I was reminded of that lesson myself earlier this year. As you might expect, I’ve gone to great lengths to make sure that my family is prepared. When the weather is at its worst, my staff and I are at GEMA headquarters coordinating emergency response across the state. That means my family has to be ready for severe weather, equipped with supplies and the knowledge that they need to protect themselves.

My emergency plan was made at a time when my parents were completely self-sufficient, and it assumed that they would be able to take care of the last-minute preparations for a winter storm. Unfortunately, both of my parents have had changes in their health, and they are no longer as mobile as they used to be. Last February, with significant ice accumulations in the forecast and a high likelihood of power outages, my parents realized they needed to bring in additional firewood but they were not able to do it themselves.

I am immensely grateful that my parents’ neighbors were there to help, and I’m glad to say that everything turned out well in the end. But I’ve asked myself many times since then – what if the neighbors hadn’t been there? What if my parents had needed medicine or food? The situation could have been much more serious.

I share this story in hopes that it will be a helpful reminder to you, just as it was to me, that it’s critical to revisit your emergency plans from time to time.