Ming the Mechanic
The NewsLog of Flemming Funch

Tuesday, November 15, 2011day link 

 Being prepared
picture Did you ever notice how, when you're well prepared for something, it is much less likely to be a problem? No, not just in the obvious way, that you're less likely to get wet when you bring your umbrella. It is altogether less likely to rain if you bring your umbrella. Your preparedness changes the world you'll experience.

I lived in L.A. for many years. California is earthquake country. For the longest time I had in the back of my head the worry about The Big One hitting one day. That is, until I prepared for it, and it then happened and wasn't a big deal.

At some point in the autumn of 1993 I got the strong feeling that a big earthquake was coming soon. Checking with some of my more psychic friends, a bunch of them felt that too. We even had a collective hunch of a particular weekend when it would happen. I took it quite seriously. So, we prepared. I went out and bought earthquake supplies, filling up a number of cardboard boxes in the garage. Canned food, water, thermal blankets, stuff for purifying water, wrench for turning off the gas, first-aid kit, wind-up radio, etc. And I did earthquake drills with the whole family. We found the safest spots in the house, practiced what we'd do, talked it through, etc.

Then, on the appointed weekend... nothing happened. Oh, a 6.0 in the desert on the Nevada border, but that's hardly worth mentioning. Nothing happened in our area. And we quickly forgot about it again.

Until early one Monday morning a few months later when I got jerked out of my sleep in the dark by the house apparently being violently thrown back and forth for a rather long time. Doors slamming, bookcases falling, glass shattering, furniture, refrigerators, everything sliding across the floor. No electricity, so I was dodging these various moving objects, still in the dark, to go see if everybody were alright. We had 4 kids in the house that night, our own + 2 of the neighbors. As it turned out, each one had been just barely missed by some heavy falling object, like a TV, but nobody got hurt.

This was the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. The epicenter was just a block from our house. Not that our area was the hardest hit in any way, but it was bad enough. In the little published overview of the magnitude by zip code, in our neighborhood it was an 8.9 magnitude earthquake. Overall it got a rating of 6.7 on the Richter scale. Freeway bridges fell down as far as 20 miles away. Everything made of brick in the whole San Fernando valley seemed to have falled over. Luckily, nothing important is made of bricks in those parts.

Anyway, the point of my story is that before my previous earthquake preparation frenzy, I had been afraid of earthquakes. It was an anxiety in the back of my mind, which made me wonder if we maybe should move. Then I became prepared. And, when it happened, despite me not noticing before later, I was in no way afraid. I was effective, I did what needed to be done. Went to turn off the gas and patch up the broken water pipe in the garage which was spraying water all over everything. Got us all outside, hooked up with the neighbors, etc.

Overall it was a rather exciting event, giving rise to a number of positive experiences and enlightening learnings. It was fascinating to see how people's personal stories and expectations played out in a situation like that. It was inspiring to see the community self-organization that happens in a crisis like that. That morning, the whole street was out having a barbecue potluck party in one of the front yards, watching a little battery driven TV for news. That became the beginning of block parties, a neighborhood watch program, etc.

I no longer thought about maybe finding a better place, something more safe and ideal. Rather, what I took away from it was that wherever you are is the right place to be. There are no safe places, but there are safe people. If you're prepared, most things aren't really all that bad.

If you prepare for something "bad", it probably isn't going to be all that bad. Or if it is, you'll know what to do about it. So, if you're prepared, and the people you know are prepared, you can stop worrying about it, and put your attention to more enjoyable matters.

So, not only do you save yourself a lot of anxiety, but it is a lot more comfortable to prepare for things in advance. It is a lot easier to prepare to have a source of drinking water when the stores are open and your Internet connection works than it is when you're thirsty and nothing is open, because of some kind of minor or major breakdown. It is a lot easier to think of how you'll charge your cellphone or your radio before the electricity actually goes down.

A lot of things that could happen might not happen. But, seriously, you're going to help them not happen by being well prepared for their happening. Have an umbrella ready, so it won't rain. Or, in case it actually does, we'll be dry.
[ | 2011-11-15 23:30 | 47 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

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