WE can't anticipate what disasters, natural or man-made, might befall our area on any given day, but we can control how we as individuals, families or organizations are prepared for them. And our preparation will affect how well we get through the crisis.
In the first several hours after Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and West Virginia American Water Co. announced the Do Not Use water order one week ago today, some mayhem ensued at larger grocery outlets as residents rushed out to buy bottled water.
In a few places, scuffles occurred as some customers found store shelves empty while seeing others — who had arrived just moments before — accumulate multiple cases of bottled water.
Similar mayhem occurred after the 2012 derecho, when electric power was interrupted across the area for days or weeks. Residents lined up for gasoline supplies at the few stations that had power to pump gas. Traffic backed up and fights ensued.
But the chaos is preventable with a little planning and preparation.
Putting aside how the whole episode could have and should have been prevented by responsible operations by Freedom Industries, the water crisis, along with the subzero cold snap, Superstorm Sandy and the derecho have given West Virginia residents repeated lessons on the need for preparedness when our normal safe supplies of electricity, food, water or other necessities are interrupted in a crisis.
As Zack Harold reported in the Life section of Wednesday's Daily Mail, nobody knows when the next interruption will strike, but with a few simple inexpensive supplies, families and organizations can be ready and won't need to rush out and compete with panicked crowds full of people who did not plan ahead.
Preparing is not much more complicated than storing three gallons of water per person in the family (one per day for a three day outage), enough non-perishable food for the same amount of time, a week's worth of prescription medicine, a first aid kit, cash, a battery powered radio and extra batteries, and a few other items.
The American Red Cross has tips for making a family crisis plan and building a crisis kit at www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/get-kit.
Families and organizations who are prepared will be taking care of their own, and better able to help the less fortunate and less prepared. To modify the advice of flight attendants during the pre-flight safety checklist, take care of your own family's needs first, then be prepared to help others.