Cottrel: Hawaii scare a reminder to be prepared, even in Ohio

This Jan. 13, 2018 file smartphone screen capture shows a false incoming ballistic missile emergency alert sent from the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency system. Gov. David Ige has appointed state Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Kenneth Hara as new head of Hawaii’s emergency management agency after a faulty alert was sent to cellphones around the state warning of an incoming missile attack. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones, file)

caption arrowCaption
This Jan. 13, 2018 file smartphone screen capture shows a false incoming ballistic missile emergency alert sent from the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency system. Gov. David Ige has appointed state Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Kenneth Hara as new head of Hawaii’s emergency management agency after a faulty alert was sent to cellphones around the state warning of an incoming missile attack. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones, file)

Poor Hawaii.

It’s hard to imagine that here I am in the snow and ice, and I am feeling sorry for the people of Hawaii. Really I am.

Last Saturday morning island residents and visitors had a rude awakening when a statewide alert was erroneously sent out. They were told that missiles were on their way and that it was not a drill.

Imagine getting an emergency alert that tells you that terrible disaster is only 20 minutes away and you have no basement. Seriously what would you do?

In Hawaii there was widespread panic, of course, as people sought shelter. Tremendous relief followed when word was received some time later that the warning of impending doom had been a mistake. It all must have seemed like a cruel trick. From what I saw of a news conference later in the day, there was a lot of anger, too. False alarms don’t help anyone.

One friend on Oahu told me he thought he was about to meet his Maker and he seemed at peace.

The whole situation was scary and I imagine the emotional trauma will haunt some people for a long time.

This reminds me of the erroneous tsunami warning that happened when we lived there 30 years ago. Sirens wailing and circling helicopters had all of us watching the ocean from the hills but nothing happened. There was no tsunami after all.

READ MORE: Cottrel: Clark County has plenty of local recreation options

I tell you I still think about that fear I felt years later. How could I have prepared for a 60 foot wave washing over our house? There was no way. All I could do was drive through the sugar cane fields toward the high ground as fast as I could.

Meanwhile here in frozen Ohio, we were told of a possibility of a blizzard this last weekend. I’m glad that all we got was just some snow and ice, but it was a bit of a wake up call for us.

Winter is here with all its fierceness. Our easy winters of late have led to our being somewhat complacent. Since I haven’t used it for a few years, I have no idea where I put that ice scraper or the bag of ice melting stuff for the steps.

In the past, winters have been known to surprise us with a quick nasty turn for the worse. When it is winter, we need to remember that blizzards and ice storms are possible. After all, it was only 40 years ago next week that we experienced the fury of the Blizzard of '78. Now that was one scary blizzard!

Last week when I stood in line waiting to pay for milk, bread and eggs, I was reminded that we never should let the battery or food supply get too low during winter storm season. I’d allowed myself to be vulnerable. The time wasted in line was my fault.

The difference between storm prep panic and calm adjustment to the weather just requires some simple preparation.

DETAILS: Cottrel: Winter makes decorating grave site a challenge

It really doesn’t hurt to keep extra batteries, some bottled water, flashlights and a couple of simple meals back for bad weather. Keeping boots, extra gloves, a warm blanket and a shovel in the car has made a huge difference for more than one winter traveler with car problems.

Making sure that everyone in the family has emergency contact phone numbers is a given but does your family know where to meet if your neighborhood is shut down by a gas leak, sink hole or something worse?

If you are on propane, keep a close eye on the fill level in the tank, even if you are on autofill. That last cold snap caused my dad’s house to run out of propane before the autofill date. We had a chilly few hours as we waited for propane delivery.

Take a few minutes this week to just think ahead a bit. Plan ahead to avoid inconvenience and long lines if weather changes suddenly.

Please keep an eye on the elderly or neighbors who might be having health issues. Maybe an extra flashlight, a comforter or some bottled water will help ease their minds. Many of our seniors refuse to go outside if walks are icy. Perhaps you can pick up something at the store for them and spare them the scary walk.

Just like in Hawaii, we cannot plan ahead for everything that could happen but we can be prepared to adjust, adapt and look out for each other. We can weather the storms in fine style.

And remember, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?

About the Author