Right before my second daughter was born, my OB warned me that she would most likely arrive while Hurricane Sandy was hitting. For those who weren’t in the northeast a few years ago, Hurricane Sandy was a category 2 storm that caught the NYC-metro area by surprise, ruining homes and causing billions in damage. At the time, I lived in Bayonne, NJ (a bridge-and-tunnel community on the other side of the Hudson). My mother was visiting, ready to help me with my oldest child once my new daughter came. Having lived in Florida for a few decades, she insisted that we go to Lowe’s to get some supplies in preparation for Sandy.
When we got to Lowe’s, no one was there. Mom, who was used to swarms of Floridians buying out toilet paper prior to every storm, asked the cashier why people weren’t preparing for the hurricane. The girl looked at her, puzzled.
My mom still talks about this. Because, even though she made us purchase a number of items that we hadn’t thought to have, we were still grossly unprepared for 11 days without electricity. In the cold. With a jaundiced newborn.
Since then, I take hurricanes more seriously. I also recognize the need to be prepared for the unexpected, which is why SPY SECRETS THAT CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE by Jason Hanson inspired me to be more vigilant. Turns out, there are some basic things we can do to roll with the punches:
Be Aware Of Your Surroundings. Hanson, an ex-CIA officer, says that this is probably the most important thing we can do to be more vigilant. When I was touring him in NYC, he never used an iPhone, but rather watched everything, made note of people passing by, and listened to nearby conversations. As he explained, being distracted puts us at risk for becoming a target or for missing important cues.
Have Some Simple Supplies Or Tools On Hand For Emergencies. A few gallons of water in the garage, a blanket in your SUV, and a tactical pen in your front pocket are just a few inexpensive items that can become vital in an emergency. Investing in a few things “just in case” ensures we aren’t desperate should an unexpected situation arise.
Make Note Of Escape Routes. Actually, my dad always used to quiz us when we were kids on where the nearest emergency exit was. And it is a good habit to develop, even for even mundane reasons. Jason suggests that we note the exits whenever we are staying in hotels, on planes, or in theaters.
It’s easy to become passive, and to accept what Jason calls, “the normalcy bias,” where we just assume everything will be like how it was the day before. But if we can just motivate ourselves to be a little more aware, a little more proactive, and a little more prepared, we will be better for it in the end.