Be Prepared and Safe Today

Today as I watched the morning unfold, all kinds of thoughts swirled in my head. Another sad week of children and families dying in apartment fires, celebrity deaths, people stranded in harsh weather and traffic mishaps, confusion around COVID protocols, mask and vaccinate or not—it was tough to stay focused on the gorgeous sunrise.

I was reminded of what one eulogist called the vicissitudes of life. After her repeated use of this 50-cent phrase, I looked up what the heck a vicissitude was. The Internet definition, “a change or variation occurring in the course of something,” didn’t tell me much but I wondered why she she hadn’t just said pay attention, learn the lessons, and keep it moving.

As a soft breeze carried the last leaves of autumn away, these two things came to mind. Call them vicissitudes, common sense, good advice, or lessons—either way I think they’re worthy of consideration:

Be proactive. Last week’s fire in Philadelphia and the New York disaster earlier this week must be a wake-up call to have those all-important conversations with our families. In both instances things went horribly wrong with fire doors, space heaters, and building regulations.

If you don’t live in an apartment, these may not seem urgent, but we are reminded to change smoke and fire alarm batteries when we change clocks in the fall and spring. Something so simple makes the difference.

As the world’s worst person to address the endless chirping that most alarms emit when replacement becomes necessary, I’m making a new commitment to buy plenty of batteries and do the right thing.

At one house we lived in, the alarm near the kitchen went off every time I cooked so we’d take the battery out. Eventually my cooking improved AND we moved the alarm so we were better prepared in case of a fire.

Other life-saving tips include reducing the use of extension cords and replacing frayed or damaged ones. Further, be extra careful with space heaters—give them plenty of space away from bedding, furniture, and  combustibles.

Have a designated place to meet so firefighters will know everyone is safe. If you’re renting, especially if you live in a multi-family dwelling, purchase renters’ insurance yesterday to protect your assets—stuff can be replaced, people can’t. Do practice drills often.

*Check with your local fire department for more tips.

Be prepared. It’s winter and though 75 degrees on Christmas Day was nice, we should prepare like it’s 18 and we’re stranded in our vehicles like Virginia/DC Beltway drivers last week. Keep a blanket, non-perishable food, extra chargers, and warm clothes handy. Refuel when you can so you’re not coasting on fumes and the grace of God if there’s a problem.

Before COVID, when I had long commutes to work, I kept the proverbial kitchen sink in my trunk, and though I never used some of the items, I was prepared. Between global warming, increased traffic, and everyone scurrying and hurrying, leave earlier so rush hour can be whittled down to rush minutes.

Together we can be safe and keep our families safe. Let’s plan on it and be kinder than we have to be. Oh, don’t miss the sunset—it, too, will be beautiful.

*I am not a firefighter, nor do I play one on television, but I watch lots of fire department and emergency shows. Fighting fires is stressful and dangerous so here’s a salute to the brave men and women who give their lives every day to keep us safe. Thanks for all you are and for all you do.

Looking for inspiration, empowerment, uplift, straight talk, an encouraging word to brighten your day? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, educator, inspirational speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more. Now listen to her new podcast, “Three Stores, Two Cotton  Gins, One Remarkable Life: The Journey from There To Here,” and meet her favorite family and friends as they share laughter and heartwarming life lessons. Look for it on this page or wherever you get your favorite podcasts.

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