I’ve been thinking about Murphy, the ogre that upends your day. “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong” is his motto.

Hit fast. Do harm. Move on. Repeat.

Murphy, for example, lives in my garden hose. If I drop that hose, the lever of the spray nozzle will hit the ground and blast me square in the face with a shot of cold water, every single time.

Murphy will also cause my dog to upchuck on the living room rug just as company arrives for dinner.

Unexpected company is especially delightful, allowing Murphy to ensure my tattered unmentionables are air drying in the bathroom/laundry room. Many a mortified guest has been blinded by the sight. You have been warned.

A quick trip to the grocery store while bare-faced, wild-haired, and wearing a ratty shirt will result in seeing everyone you know, including the old boyfriend who dumped you decades ago, a former boss and your pastor.

The basement will flood as soon as the house is listed for sale. The car engine will explode the day after the refrigerator dies. A smoke alarm will chirp all night after an especially grueling day.

Murphy stinks, plain and simple.

Some of this is embellished, of course, except for the face-blasting hose and the barfing dog. But it does seem like weirdness and hardship happen when we’re least prepared.

This is especially true when big, nasty stuff rolls around. Recent floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes and other disasters made me wonder how prepared I am to face such challenges.

Reality hit me like a blast to the face.

“Welcome, Murphy,” I might as well say. “I’ve been expecting you.”

I’ve been researching the fine art of prepping for life’s inevitable upheavals. According to a recent Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) survey, 60 percent of American adults have not practiced what to do in the case of disaster. Only 39 percent of survey respondents have a household emergency plan, yet 80 percent of Americans live in counties that have been hit with weather-related disasters since 2007.

Schlueterville, I admit, has some work to do.

There were troubling questions aplenty.

Do you have enough food and water stored to sustain your family for several days in the case of a mass power outage?

Each of us needs roughly one gallon of potable water per day to survive. We can live several days without food, but three days without water is an entirely different story. Plus, think of the additional water we use for cooking, hygiene, and more.

Water is life.

Think a mass power outage can’t happen? Research the Northeast blackout of 2003, which affected an estimated 10 million people in Ontario and 45 million people in eight U.S. states. Folks were without power from two days to a couple weeks.

How would your world change without power for two days? How about a week, a month or more?

Do you have important documents organized in a safe place?

Where would you go if your house was suddenly rendered uninhabitable?

What would happen if disaster strikes while your kids are in school? How would you get to them if roads were impassable?

Do you have a bag packed with essentials (food, water, clothing, flashlight, first aid kit, medications, etc.) if you need to evacuate?

Is your car stocked with supplies in case you’re stranded and have to wait for help?

How will you communicate with your family if the power is down and phone service fails, and you live in different areas of the country?

This isn’t about the zombie apocalypse. It’s about being more self-sustained as individuals, who in turn build neighborhoods and communities that are better able to respond to disasters of every kind.

It’s about relying on ourselves rather than expecting outside assistance that may be slow to arrive, if it arrives at all.

It’s about keeping Murphy at bay, so let’s get to work.

I may share what I learn in columns to come. Input is appreciated.



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