Storm warning

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I don’t think there has ever been a doubt I don’t have the ability to take care of myself, but now it’s official: in case of emergency I will die.

During the last big storm/possible power outage scare, I finally felt a responsible adult would probably figure out what it is everyone stocks up on when they find out a big storm is coming (Toilet paper? Potato chips? Pudding cups? I have no idea).

I went to Wal-Mart and joined the approximately 1 million persons loading up their carts almost entirely from the potato chip aisle.

Having no clue what exactly one can eat that requires no refrigeration or heat (candy and wine?) I ended up with hot dogs, two lighters, an assortment of chips, a jumbo bag of gummy bears, peppermints, canned soup, peanut butter (okay cookie butter, but peanut butter sounds better) and two new bath mats because there is no reason to live like savages — even in the dark.

Blizzard

Dec. 26 dawned crisp and cold, with heavy snowfalls predicted for later in the day. That last part is important “later in the day.”

Realizing the Christmas festivities had decimated a few of our necessary groceries (coffee, milk and toilet paper — all necessities at any time of the year), GirlWonder and I set out to replenish our stash before the “big storm” rolled in.

We made the 20 minute drive to the nearest supercenter without incident. We were quick in the store — grabbing the necessities (and, okay, some 70-percent-off gift wrap) and moving quickly to the registers. We had to beat that “later in the day” blizzard prediction after all.

Exiting the store I realized, all too quickly, the error of my ways. Apparently “later in the day” was now. We had entered the store to calm and exited to sheets of icy white snow. An entire Yukon territory worth of snow was being dumped directly atop our heads.

I briefly considered there being worst places to be stranded than a 24-hour supercenter. They have restrooms, snacks and an entire wall of TVs after all. With the storm predicted to last for days, however, I had concerns about spending the weekend there.

Safely buckled and with a white-knuckle grip on the steering wheel, we slowly began the 20-minute trip home.

Prepared

It took one and-a-half hours. As I drove, I explained to our 13-year-old daughter how things worked (or didn’t) in the snow. Slow and steady wins the (non)race. Better to get there late than not at all.

We had ample gas, cell phones and a charger, not to mention a blanket and a small stash of groceries in the back seat. Worst case scenario, we could survive being stranded for a short while.

She was shocked to even consider it. This child in the age of cell phones had never considered that we could be stranded — or have to walk for help — at all.

In this vein Mr. Wonderful recently chastised a relative who rides around in a lightweight sweatshirt, torn jeans and flip flops on even the coldest days. She had no answer for what she would do if forced to walk from her vehicle for help. The possibility had never occurred to her.

Here then is Aunt Kym’s advice: Always dress as if you — and your kids — might have to walk a ways. Even in these days of cell phones and AAA, in a real emergency your own two feet may be required.

Always have adequate outdoor clothing for everyone in the vehicle — particularly children. If an adult wants to bomb around ill-prepared, then by all means, have at it. If, however, you are in charge of small children, make sure they have adequate footwear, if they can walk, and hats, gloves, etc., regardless of age.

I don’t care if you are “just running up to the store.” Please don’t have your preschooler in footie pajamas and a baby wrapped only in a blanket (sans snow coat and hat). That’s just asking for trouble.

Fueled

I’m a big fan of keeping your gas tank topped off (again, we all have our days but making a habit of driving around on a teaspoon of gas is not for people with children). Purchase a cell phone charger for your car.

My biggest piece of advice is one I should have heeded. When a big storm is brewing and you have any choice at all, stay home. I’m still not sure what it is about inclement weather that causes people to storm the snack aisle, but the coffee, toilet paper and discount bath mats can wait.

About the Author

Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless. More Stories by Kymberly Foster Seabolt

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