Posted by: Mindy Kelley, 7th Grade Life Science Teacher and FEMA Mom, Colonial Heights, Va.
Editor’s Note: The views expressed by Mindy Kelley do not necessarily represent the official views of the United States, the Department of Homeland Security, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA does not endorse any non-government organizations, entities, or services.
What do I want this Mother’s Day? I want to know that my kids are safe and happy. It may sound cliché, but if you’re a parent, you understand. And while I can’t ensure my children’s happiness, I can make them just a little bit safer by helping them prepare for a potential emergency.
One Christmas, I gave both of my daughters NOAA Weather Radios. I thought it was so cool that you don’t even need batteries or electricity to you use it – you can power it up with a hand crank. Did you know that? You can also program it to turn on and provide only certain warnings. Since my daughters no longer live with us, I also bought one for myself and my husband.
We didn’t plan preparedness as a theme, but one of my daughters gave me a waterproof flashlight the same year. She was excited to show me how the hot pink flashlight could light up or blink as a lantern as well. Our family never called this “preparedness” until we read about it at ready.gov. I just knew it was a good idea to have a few supplies in case we lose electricity or if it isn’t safe to leave the house for some reason. These aren’t fun scenarios to think about, but we try to make it fun by finding gifts like these.
We learned from our experiences with a big ice storm we had in southern Virginia in 1998, and also during Hurricane Isabel in 2003. It may not happen often, but sometimes we have to manage without electricity for days. We used to light candles, but we’ve since switched to flashlights and battery-powered lanterns to be on the safe side. In the classroom, I encourage my students to learn from their experiences, too – like trials in the scientific method. Once you’ve survived a disaster, you can learn how to better prepare yourself for next time. But it’s better to think about these hypothetical situations before they happen!
I always tell my kids to have a plan, and also to have a “plan B.” It’s important that you know where your family is in a disaster, so we’ve all agreed to meet at our local church. We haven’t written it down yet, but that’s something I can ask for this Mother’s Day. My daughter who lives out of town learned after the earthquake last August that sometimes you can’t make a cell phone call, so we’re keeping in mind other methods such as emailing and texting to let each other know that we are safe.
So this Mother’s Day, I wouldn’t mind getting a new flashlight. Okay, maybe that and 18 holes of golf. Being ready for a potential disaster isn’t the only important thing in life, but it sure is an easy way to help keep your loved ones safe. Happy Mother’s Day.