An Ounce of Prevention

I spent several hours in a hospital with my daughter the other day.  She had fractured her ankle in two places in a freak accident.  She initially thought it was just a bad sprain but after insisting she get it looked at, she let me take her to an InstaCare facility where they x-rayed her ankle and found out the severity of the injury.  It was determined she needed surgery where several screws would be placed in two of her ankle bones to assure the healing process would proceed correctly.

As my wife and I sat in the surgery pre-op room, multiple medical professionals kept coming into the room to check and double check everything was in order for things to go as well as possible in surgery.  I counted seven different individuals who assisted my daughter before her surgery and I'm sure there were a number of others in the OR that I didn't see and meet. Her doctor, nurses, anesthesiologist, case worker and several others whom I didn't know were all there to insure things went smoothly and successfully.

A decision was made at the last minute to transport her to the main hospital rather than perform the surgery in the Orthopedic Center as originally planned.  There was a concern that due to the complicated nature of her particular injury, the doctor and anesthesiologist felt it would be best to perform the surgery at a location where they would have access to more sophisticated equipment and additional medically trained personnel.

In spite of the dollar signs flashing in front of my eyes thinking of all the extra costs associated with the move and possible spending a day or two in the main hospital, I was truly grateful that these additional measures were being taken to assure the safety and well-being of my daughter.  As her doctor mentioned to my wife and me, the likelihood of complications was low but they just didn't think it was prudent to take the risk.

Being in the preparedness industry for well over 30 years now, it didn't take me long to draw an analogy with this developing situation and emergency preparedness.  We've all heard the old adage, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."  There is great wisdom in those words; unfortunately that wisdom is mostly ignored by far too many of us.

It all started when we were kids and our moms would yell out to us as we ran out the door to play, "Be careful and look both ways when you cross the street!"  We would yell back, "OK mom" and then promptly ignore everything she said.  That's just the way both mom's and kids were made - moms can't keep from warning their kids to be careful and kids can't seem to help brushing it all off.  Somehow, our species continues to survive.

As our children grow into the sometime "brain dead" stage of teenagerhood, it becomes increasingly difficult to insist our kids "be careful" as they start to drive and act as if they are wise adults.  Unfortunately, far too often our teenagers are not careful - mistakes are made and sometimes very painful and costly consequences follow.  As parents, we naturally want to protect our children and shield them from the awful consequences of bad choices, but sometimes those consequences are necessary for our children to learn and hopefully not repeat harmful behavior.

In a way, many of us tend to act like teenagers when it comes to food storage and emergency preparedness.  We have the attitude of immortality - those bad things won't happen to us.  And, if any such things should happen, we won't be affected to any great level.  Plus, I'm sure that FEMA or some other government agency will take care of us.  Many simply don't like the feeling we have this virtual over-protective mom insisting we "be careful" and prepare for more difficult times.  Some habits and behavior is simply hard to change.

One particular behavior that really gives me concern is the attitude that others will solve any given problem for us.  This idea we don’t have to worry because someone else is in a better position than we are and surely will want to help is a very dangerous mindset.  One of the many experiences my son and I had as we were caught in hurricane Katrina reinforces this concern.  Here’s an excerpt from my journal regarding one such issue.

“We walked over to the hotel lobby to check out and experienced a sad scene. There in the lobby were about 20 people, many older, who looked very forlorn and scared. They were all intently listening to a small transistor radio that was sitting on the reservations desk. The news they were hearing was not encouraging as they heard reports of the flooding and damage near the coast and they were holding on to the hope that the Red Cross would somehow find them and help them with food and supplies.”

“Many of these people hadn't eaten for 24 hours and were getting worried as to where they would find their next meal. Then we heard someone outside yell that a restaurant across the street was open and had some food (it was easy to hear because one of the lobby glass doors had been blown out). Several people jumped up from the lobby and ran across the street with others only to be sadly disappointed when they found the doors locked. You could definitely see the hopeless feeling in their faces as they waited for someone else to save them.”

“This really bothered me. I never want to be in that condition – waiting for someone else to save or take care of me and my family. I think there was far too much of that in the whole Katrina disaster, people not taking responsibility for their own and expecting others to solve their problems. Don't get me wrong, there are definitely those who need help from others because of health, age, handicaps or other reasons, but those who are able need to step up and fend for themselves.”

One challenge those of us who believe in preparedness have is trying to convince others they should also prepare.  This is no easy task.  Nevertheless, the scriptures council us to try.  In Luke 22:32 we are told “…and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” We certainly can’t force others to see things the way we do but we need to try.

Preparing both mentally and physically for trying times ahead is not something we can do for others.  It requires a personal conversion to the wisdom of preparing for uncertain times.  It is frustrating to see relatives and friends ignoring the need to prepare while whispering behind your back that you're considered somewhat of a fanatic.  Even the term "prepper" has lately developed into somewhat of an extremist's interpretation, almost being put in the same class as "flat earthers".  It really is sad to see peer pressure having such a negative effect on those who don't want to be seen as "end of times" extremists.

We just need to take a deep breath and look rationally at the world around us.  Every day that passes, there are more reasons it just makes sense to prepare with a greater likelihood of needing those preps sooner rather than later.  Seriously, what's the down side to preparing for potential troubled times ahead.  If we set some food aside along with other preparedness items, and nothing ever happens where we need to use it, we can still eat it rather than spending more of our hard earned money at the grocery store.  What a bonus!  You don't get your health, home and auto insurance premium payments back if you never submit a claim - they're gone forever.  Not so with your food insurance - you can eat your investment any time you wish.

It really does behoove us all to take a closer look at the wisdom behind the proven benefits of putting some effort towards preparing today to avoid the potential devastation of not being prepared to provide for our families is times of need.  I'm convinced; the time will shortly come when those who sacrificed to acquire their ounce of prevention will be forever grateful they were able to avoid the cost of the pound of cure.