Have a light handy for an emergency

As published in a recent edition of the Asheville Citizen Times:

Start with a simple flashlight, strategically placed in your home.

I woke up the other night to pounding rain, gusting wind and blasts of cold air coming in the window. As I gratefully snuggled deeper under my covers my thoughts turned toward flashlights. I ran my personal flashlight inventory — there was a flashlight right next to my side of the bed, a small one in my top bedside drawer, and big hefty ones by the front and back doors.

Yup, I was ready. If the oak tree fell on the house and the electricity went out, I had my first line of defense.

Light! Even if there was a random power failure and I had to get out of bed for any reason, I was still ready to find my way in the dark.

My business partner, Robert, and I are big on emergency preparation. Remember the snowstorm of the century in 1993 and the flooding of the Swannanoa in 2004 when bunches of us were without electricity for days? We often think back to those times when we were reminded of the need for flashlights, camping stoves and extra food and water.

Two years ago we were helping a woman de-clutter and simplify her home. We were upstairs with our client in the wide hallway near her children’s bedrooms. Robert pulled a flashlight out of a box. It worked fine. He asked her if she had other flashlights in the house and if she knew where they were. She replied they were around somewhere. That was his cue to place the flashlight on top of the hall bookcase and say, “If you ever need a flashlight remember this one is right here.” She fussed and said it was unnecessary. Gently, Robert insisted. The flashlight stayed.

Then, no kidding, two days later our client called Robert thanking him profusely for that flashlight. She had been alone in the house with her four children, the lights had gone out, her 4-year-old was scared and crying out and her 12-year-old was in the shower. She remembered that flashlight. She found the 4-year-old, helped the 12-year-old out of the shower, and took the whole brood down to the kitchen where she had candles in the pantry. They partied on Cheez–its and juice and talked about how cool it was that mom knew where the flashlight was. The electricity came on the next morning.

Since then it is routine to make sure our clients have working flashlights. We put flashlights by everyone’s bed and flashlights near the front and back doors. If the children or dogs can’t leave those lights by the doors alone, find a place near by where you can find them in the dark. Garrity is a great brand to buy.

Flashlights are the tip of the iceberg in preparing for an emergency. But they are a great start. Getting flashlights in place is an example of thinking ahead and taking action. We need those qualities to get organized. We need those qualities to prepare for an emergency. Think. Take action. It is love and care for ourselves and our families. That’s how it works. The better we take care of ourselves, the better we can take care of others.

Julia Gunnels, of Asheville, is the owner of Simply Change, a professional organizing service. Robert Uherka is her business partner. For services, portfolio and other information, visit simplychangenow.net, call 230-2802 or email julia@simplychangenow.net.

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