A few years ago on a beautiful September day I set off to Acadia to take a hike. I chose a trail I had hiked many times and looked forward to a nice two hour hike followed by a cold one at Lompoc Café!. But somewhere along the way things went terribly wrong. Evidently I “zigged” when I should have “zagged” and before I knew it I was lost. I didn’t panic. There were people around and it was mid afternoon – plenty of daylight left. But one bad decision led to the next and rather than asking for directions or grabbing a map I thought my keen sense of direction would lead me in the right direction. Not so much!Before I new it the sun set, the temperature dropped dramatically and I began to panic realizing I was not prepared to spend a night in the woods and needed to get out –fast! I soon found myself in the dark with no flashlight and a dead cell phone. Desperate to get out of the dark woods – I deployed all my “senses”. I could barely see – but I could hear so I listened for the sound of cars. I walked in the dark – towards that sound – careful not to trip on a tree root. I kept this up until the cars were closer. Finally after hiking fourteen miles, cold, hungry and exhausted I made it out of the woods and home safely!
I readily admit I did everything wrong. My biggest mistake was assuming “nothing bad would happen to me”. I lived on MDI for ten years – I knew these trails! What could possibly go wrong? Unfortunately we all make this assumption at one time or another. We assume our homes and businesses and ourselves are immune from “disaster”. “That won’t happen to me.” “We never get hurricanes in Maine.” “I never get lost.” are common refrains. Even when we do think about bad things happening – we are often to absorbed in today and the now – that we fail to take the time to prepare for the “unexpected.”
September is National Preparedness Month and so I urge you to take some time to prepare a plan should you find yourself, your home, your family, your vehicle or your business in a situation that is unexpected and potentially dangerous. A few great resources to help you get started are www.ready.gov and www.redcross.org. The Red Cross site has a fun game kids can play to prepare an emergency kit. Don’t view this as a chore – but rather a fun family activity. If you are preparing a plan for your business – engage your co-workers to help and have fun with it! You may never need it – but having it could save your life, your family, your home and your business.
I’m off to take a hike on a beautiful September day. But this time I’m prepared. Map, flashlight, extra clothes, food, water, charged cell phone, first aid kit, blanket and hiking partner – check! Lesson learned.