Japan’s Tragedy and Preparing for the Worst

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As a veteran of several large earthquakes during my formative years, I have watched with great sorrow the tragedies that have stricken Japan over the past couple of weeks.  While my own thoughts mirror those we have heard from all corners in the aftermath of the trauma, the events and the dignity we have witnessed of the victims dealing with those events have gotten me thinking, as they should, about what we can do when and if we find ourselves in the sites of such unexpected danger.

Believer that I am in preparedness, when I lived in earthquake country I was one of the most prepared individuals ever to populate the San Andreas Fault.  Outfitted with water, food (for dogs, too), light sources, camping gear, first-aid supplies, radios, tools and enough batteries to power an L.A. high rise for a week — from car to office to home — no earthquake was going to leave me and mine helpless. When I then moved from earthquake country to blizzard country some years back, I simply transferred that mindset to accommodate the new type of threat Mother Nature may decide to send my way.  

My long-suffering husband has through the years humored me in my compulsion, and like any decent mother bear, I have schooled my kids in the fine art of preparing for disaster, which has become second nature to them, as well. And indeed my clan has witnessed firsthand the value of my efforts, particularly when we have found ourselves in sub-zero temperatures without heat or light or running water.

I realize that such preparations may be useless in the face of tsunami or nuclear meltdown, and my heart goes out to the thousands of people dealing with such unspeakable tragedy today. But the hard fact of this life is that some catastrophes simply defy preparation or human intervention. Or blame.  Preparing for the worst, however, gives us power, and I have found that that with that power comes peace of mind. When you acknowledge that disaster can strike, and you  gather the supplies and learn what to do if it does, you become less a victim in both mind and body. So wherever you are, wherever you live, be ready ahead of time for whatever special brand of disaster might occur — earthquakes, hurricanes, brush fires, blizzards, tornadoes, the list goes on. By preparing for disaster, we make our own luck, and perhaps even our own survival, as well.