Commentary: Extreme weather can happen anywhere

The wild fires in California have inhabited my nightmares this week and I’ve repeatedly given thanks that we do not have fires like that here in Ohio.

We lived in Los Angeles before moving here and have been face to face with a 12-foot wall of flame heading in our direction while we were camping. Having to quickly evacuate a campground once was enough for us. Never again. It wasn’t long until California was in our rearview mirror.

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Last fall the late hurricanes made a mess of parts of North Carolina and the area near Mexico Beach, Fla. Many folks had to be evacuated there also, and many lost their homes. I’ve always wanted to live in North Carolina on the beach or the panhandle of Florida, but now I’m thinking differently.

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Right now Clark County is looking pretty good to me. We don’t have wild fires, or hurricanes, or earthquakes. Hurricane Ike a few years ago just doesn’t count because it didn’t include the flooding ocean surge and tides.

When you think about it, it seems like every place we can live has some sort of disaster to overcome.

Even Ohio has its share of threats; extreme thunderstorms, floods, tornadoes, ice storms, and blizzards. But all those threats have something in common. We generally get some warning and can prepare for them.

That first flurry of snow this week is our wake-up call for colder weather. Yep, like they said on Game of Thrones, “Winter is coming.”

We can choose to be at the mercy of the frozen weather or we can plan ahead.

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I’m not suggesting that you stock for the end of the world or the zombie apocalypse. No, I’m not suggesting anything that extreme. But would it be so terrible to actually have a couple of gallons of water, and flashlight batteries packed just in case the electricity goes out?

You are probably thinking, oh no, here is her annual “Be Prepared” column and you would be right.

I shouldn’t have to write a preparation column, but when I see how ill prepared some people are I am worried. Being at least minimally prepared is something we should be doing year around. It is part of being a good member of the community.

Having some extra diapers or some “emergency only” cloth diapers put back might save that trip to the store in an ice storm. Don’t wait until the baby formula is empty to pick up more.

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Keep a couple of easy to prepare meals that don’t require refrigeration on your shelves. This is your big chance as an adult to buy that canned pasta you loved as a kid. And while you are at it, pick up some for the local food pantry too.

Don’t wait until the day your prescription runs out to refill. Give yourself a bit of breathing room just in case the weather stinks, if your insurance will let you.

Always carry an extra blanket in your car, some old boots and gloves just in case you get stranded in a snow storm. There are some great automobile emergency kits that just might make a great Christmas gift for someone you love. Emergency lights are a practical gift idea too.

Let’s face it. Being prepared is logical. It makes sense. If the residents of an area, can fend for themselves for at least a couple of days, it keeps the traffic down and takes the stress off of our emergency response crews so they can immediately assist those in the worst situations.

Winter may be coming, but we can be ready for it.

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