Preparing for an emergency


Terry and I have a well.

Many of you are waiting for the addition to that thought. There isn’t one.

(Ok… that’s not true. This essay is, in several ways and a with a few layers, an addition to that thought. But it’s also not quite that complex, as you’ll see.)

Growing up, we both lived in houses that had water service from the city. And that life was quite different than the joys of living in a house that uses a well pump.

In some type of emergency—say a storm, like a hurricane—you might be told to fill the bathtub with water. In sweeping generalizations though, that is more about having access to clean water and not flushing the toilet. Well or no well, a supply of clean water.

The concept expands with an approaching emergency and a well. Simple: No power equals no water. One flush. Maybe two. (Maybe.) Then you need some gallon jugs, five-gallon buckets, filled tubs, and/or other sources of water available depending on how long the situation lasts. Stretch it further… water for the toilet… water for consumption… water for cleaning, cooking, showering… no electricity, no well pump, no running water.

A few years ago, a hurricane hit where we lived. Terry and I lost power in the storm, and it was out for a bit of time. It was during the stretch without it that we both became aware of how much things had changed (and how much they hadn’t) since we were kids.

Depending on the type of storm and where you live, chances are good you have at least some kind of mental checklist of things to do when a storm is forecast…

Milk and bread

Fill the tub with water

Charge the phones and tablets

Simple ideas there. There are twists and turns to them (and any others you may add).

We make fun of all the people going crazy while cleaning out grocery store aisles in the days before a storm. Folks that have them check their generators. Some will look at the propane supply for their grill. Many will fill the gas tanks on their cars.

That electronic devices idea… that’s a fun one. Wasn’t there when I was growing up. These days, you have the tendency to think that we’ve progressed in technology to unbelievable levels. Which, we have. Except…

Knock out the power in the house and see just how stable those networks are, or, how perfect it truly is to not have a landline.

Knock the power out and try to entertain the kids with a checkerboard or a deck of cards as easily as the iPad or Kindle might.

During the moments Terry and I had candles lit and the flashlights pulled out, we also found ourselves searching for the right batteries to power a radio. Now there was something that we hadn’t been thinking about for years.

Kind of a regular thing not so long ago… radios and batteries. When I was growing up, it wasn’t uncommon at all to walk around the neighborhood and hear the broadcast of a baseball game from several different houses. Not so much today.

Often, we like to consider ourselves in better situations now… more prepared to handle an emergency or a problem. And we believe that. Until the emergency arrives and we learn otherwise. (If a winter storm knocks out the power to an entire city, but no one has enough battery life left to post a status update on Facebook, is the power really out?)

We laugh when Sheldon Cooper has multiple disaster kits available, just in case the disaster prevents access to his primary kit or his escape route doesn’t pass the secondary kit. It’s funny, because don’t we all have multiple disaster kits, evacuation plans, and run emergency preparedness drills? (I’ll answer that by directing your attention to many of my friends that were in their cars following that hurricane… only because they needed to charge their phones.)

I always figured that, with a healthy respect for the power of nature, I would be ok in a severe emergency. And, so far, I have been. But I’m willing to admit, I never for a moment had flushing a toilet on my list of concerns (until it actually was).


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