Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Emergency Preparedness - For Real!

Last night brought home to me in a very real way how important it is to be prepared for emergencies.

There was a series of strong storm systems that passed through Nebraska yesterday evening which included several tornado spottings around the state.  My town was in a tornado warning with sirens blazing for an hour while funnel clouds were spotted on the ground north of us as well as south of us.  As Husband and I decided it was time to head for the basement, I was running around trying to locate flashlights, emergency candles, our wallets with our drivers licenses and other important items, my asthma medicine, pillows and blankets, all while trying to herd our dog and 4 cats down there with us.

Obviously, I haven't gotten started yet on my emergency preparedness plans, despite having talked about it on here in the past.  Obviously, I haven't practiced what I've preached!  Don't worry, the irony wasn't lost on me as I stood staring out of the basement window watching our trees thrash back and forth.

Fortunately, no real damage was done and it only amounted to a really bad thunderstorm with rain, winds and hail.  Still, being sandwiched between two spotted tornadoes, even if they were miles from us, was a sobering thought after seeing the destruction from Joplin, MO and other southern states that have been ravaged this spring.

So what will I be doing tonight after work?  Getting started on my emergency preparedness plans of course! 

My town, Kearney, was hit by a wedge tornado (actually 2 of them simultaneously, kinda back to back) on May 29, 2008.  (interesting that last night was one day past the 3rd anniversary of that event!) They were categorized as an F1 and F2 respectively, and caused some major damage around the town; fortunately, no injuries, but some buildings were demolished.  I remember well feeling the wind blast against the house that knocked the power out and me thinking, "OMG, this is really happening!" while I grabbed flashlights and thew the pets in the basement.  You'd think after that I would have gotten right on this preparedness thing, yes?  Well, no.  

Photo of the tornado system that hit my town in 2008, taken from Interstate 80 looking north west at the town.  We were even on the show Storm Chasers on the Discovery Channel!

So, no more being unprepared like that.  I did not like the feeling of being helpless and unprepared with even the basics.  I mean, how hard is it to keep some flashlights and batteries and a couple bottles of water in the basement?  

What steps have you taken to be prepared as we enter severe storm season?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Minor Car Repair - Win!

Yesterday I had a winning moment in my quest to be more self-reliant.  I taught myself how to change out a burnt bulb in my car's tail lights!

Not my car, but same make and model, and even the same tail light!
photo from here

Now, if you're a "car person" you're probably chuckling to yourself over something so simple.  Now that I know how simple it is, I'm chuckling myself....but after reading my car owners manual, searching for tutorials online, and struggling for an hour and a half on the task itself, I was about ready to throw in the towel and take the darn thing to the repair shop.  I don't have much mechanical aptitude and the instructions were written with the assumption (to my mind, anyway) that the user understood certain terminology.

After much gnashing of teeth, I figured it out.  The bulb cost $5.49 at the auto parts shop, which is considerably less than what the labor charge would have been at a repair shop.  Yay!

Next on the to-learn list for cars:  jumper cables and changing tires.  Oi.