Dad was the keeper of the cars.
Growing up, I received one ironclad rule about driving from him -- never bring the car home low on gas. As a teenager with limited funds, I grumbled a little under my breath. We lived in the country. Gas station options were limited. Our decades-old vehicles weren't exactly fuel efficient. The rule seemed expensive to me, but one morning, I hit pay dirt, and the light bulb came on. When our local gas station didn't open, I was among those with enough gas to reach town.
Mom was the keeper of the family finances.
In-between reminders about buckling my seatbelt (which she continues to this day), she was always hard at work with her children, teaching us the value of money, and how important it is to keep a little saved back for a rainy day.
Emergency preparedness lesson #1 -- If you don't prepare for an emergency, you can't help yourself.
Years later, a friend and I took a road trip to Pike's Peak in Colorado and, thanks to parents who taught me the value of being prepared, I saved space for emergency supplies in the trunk. Our trip up the mountain was majestic but uneventful. The way down, however, was a different story. Another motorist's vehicle had overheated and was losing coolant. Luckily, I had enough supplies to get them and their family safely down the mountain to a repair shop.
Emergency preparedness lesson #2 -- If you don't prepare for an emergency, you can't help anyone else.
I use those lessons every day in my job. We constantly talk about mitigating risks or reducing vulnerabilities. We keep plans in place so that we can act quickly in case of emergency. I take every opportunity to research the topic, looking for a little more knowledge or a more effective technique. We have a responsibility to our members and to our employees to keep them safe in an emergency through careful planning and preparation. Part of my job is laying the necessary groundwork to know that we are ready.
Buckling my seatbelt after a gas station stop on my way to work, I am often reminded of the important lessons from my parents. In retrospect, both the lessons and the reasons seem obvious. Let someone know where you're going and what route you're taking. Keep tools with you. Make sure the spare isn't flat before a trip. Always expect something can go wrong, and when it does, be prepared to handle it.
What is taught today in seminars, my parents learned from experience -- the difference between an emergency and a disaster is being prepared.
Shane Smith is the manager of operations at REMC and can be reached at 812-384-4446.