Sunday, January 5, 2014

Preparing for the Storm

Here in Northwest Indiana, we are under a winter storm warning with predictions of a foot of snow to fall on top of the foot of snow we already have on the ground and with warnings of dangerously—perhaps even record—freezing cold temperatures. Yesterday afternoon in the so-called “calm before the storm,” I, like many other people in my town, was out running errands in preparation prior to the possibility of being snowbound for a day or two. I’m always amazed by how weather forecasts motivate people to follow a predictable pattern of heading to the grocery stores for food, gas stations to fill automobile tanks, and discount stores for weather-related supplies. What puzzled me, however, was the ridiculously long line at the car wash. Why people wash their cars just prior to snowstorms and freezing temperatures is a behavior I just don’t understand.

Taking the last available grocery cart, I scoured the crowded aisles for things we might need if we couldn’t get out of the house for a couple of days.  With Alex’s gluten-free and milk-free diet, I am always aware of having food on hand that he can eat. Making certain we had plenty of rice milk, eggs, applesauce, rice, and vegetables, along with special gluten-free and dairy-free pasta, cereal, and bread, I figured that he will have plenty of good things to eat. Alex has a habit of asking for specific foods right after we return from the grocery store, so I was careful to think of any foods he’d requested in the past few weeks to make certain we had them all here at home. In addition, I checked all of his medications to make sure we have enough to last the week. Of course, I also bought another package of Epsom salt. [Please see last week’s blog entry for an explanation of that current favorite.] I even made sure we had plenty of “C” batteries to run one of his favorite Christmas gifts, a projector that shines star constellations on his bedroom ceiling at night so that I can honor his nightly request “to see the stars.” After making my lists and running my errands yesterday afternoon, I felt fairly confident that we were ready for the big snow.

Last night on Facebook, people posted updated weather forecasts and warnings from state and local agencies reminding people to prepare for dangerous conditions. One particular post from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security caught my attention with its recommendation for a household emergency preparedness kit and detailed explanation of what this kit should include. They suggested food and water for several days; battery-operated or hand-crank radio and flashlight (along with extra batteries) in case of power outage; warm clothes, blankets, and sleeping bags; and special items that may be needed, such as medication. Former Girl Scout that I am, I have already made certain that we are prepared and have all of those items handy.

As I considered these wise suggestions, I realized that having a child with autism means constantly being prepared for an emergency. When we take Alex places, I often take along a tote bag I always keep packed with a complete change of clothes in case he spills something on his clothes so that he doesn’t get upset. In my purse I always carry Alex’s state identification card and anti-anxiety medication in case of emergency. Whenever we take him for medical tests or appointments, I bring along a red folder that includes lists of the medications and supplements he takes, a copy of his legal papers naming Ed and me as his medical health care representatives, and a listing of all the names, addresses, phone numbers, and fax numbers of the professionals who work with him. Having this important information readily at hand has saved time on a number of occasions, which makes our lives easier. In addition, just as flight attendants point out during their emergency preparedness spiel at the beginning of every flight, Ed and I always know the location of the nearest exits in case we need to make a quick escape from a public place when Alex becomes overwhelmed. Since we are constantly prepared for the any situation, a snowstorm doesn’t faze us a bit.

In their weather preparedness announcement, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security offered the following advice: “Families should also take the time to check with neighbors and see if there’s anything they can do for each other before, during, or after the storm.” I really like this spirit of people pulling together during the tough times. Moreover, I think this is good advice for all times, not just in emergencies. Often, families who have children with autism feel isolated and even abandoned; they may appreciate others checking on them before, during, or after the frequent storms autism brings. I know that I have always been grateful for family and friends who have genuinely offered, “If you need anything, call me.” Even though I’m usually prepared enough and too proud to take them up on their offers, I appreciate knowing that I do have their support and could rely upon them for help if needed.

With plenty of food in our kitchen, a crank-operated emergency lantern/radio, flashlights, batteries, and warm clothing and blankets, we’re prepared to hunker down until the snowstorm passes. Our cars have not been washed, but the gas tanks are full, not that we plan on going anywhere today. As Hoosiers (two by birth, one by living here thirty years), we’re used to the cold and snow, and from living with autism, we’ve become a hearty trio who prepares for any storm and feels thankful when we come through them safely. May God bless all in the path of storms and keep all of us safe and warm.

“Each one will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a parched land.” Isaiah 32:2


Anonymous said...

If anyone would be fully-prepared for Chiberia, it's you! ��

Pam Byrne said...

Hi K.C.,
LOL! If you ever need anything during a snowstorm, I'm not far away from you, and I'll be glad to share. Have Trevor put on some snowshoes and just head toward our house.