March 02, 2011 Edition

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Trying to be ready

Vivian Heyl
Staff Writer

As spring approaches my concern over stormy weather once again strengthens my resolve to become better prepared in the event that stormy weather turns to severe weather.

I decided to do a little research on recent weather patterns and what I found gave me pause.

Arkansas had 33 tornadoes last year. Six people lost their lives and 38 people were injured. The first severe weather outbreak was on March 10, spawning tornados, hail and high winds with devastating results to the central part of the state.

The last tornado of the year occurred on Dec. 31 in Washington County, killing four and leaving behind extensive structural damage.

Looking at these statistics made me realize I need to be prepared year round and not just in the spring.

Preparedness has been the byword for emergency agencies for decades, but most of us don't take heed until it's too late.

The ice storm that devastated this region left me with a sense of awe at what havoc nature can wreak with something as gentle as a slow steady rain.

Following those three weeks without power, my longing for a hot shower had grown to epic proportions. I remembered bathing in an aluminum bathtub with water heated on the cookstove when I was a kid, not with fondness but with trepidation. I did not want to return to those days.

Following the return of electricity to my life, I put together a very versatile first-aid kit and started stocking water. However I forgot a very important fact. Water should only be kept for a period of three to six months and medicines expire and should be discarded. Now two years later I need to rethink my plan. Having those things was the right idea, but if they are worthless or even dangerous not a good idea.

To add to my trepidation I now have to add earthquake preparation to my already faltering severe weather preparedness. That's a whole new set of problems.

How do I develop a better system for emergency preparedness? I'll label water with the date it was stored. I'll examine my first-aid kit and remove things that are nearing expiration or already expired. I will do my best to remember that canned goods keep better than refrigerated items when the power fails.

I will also remember that no matter what I do to prepare myself to subsist in an emergency it won't work unless I am diligent and remember that it's an ongoing project not a one-time effort.

Most of all I will pray that I never have to find out how good a job I have done.

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