Be prepared, not scared

Randy Riley - Contributing columnist

We picked a good time to get away for a few days.

For the past several years, Debbie and I have celebrated Christmas by giving each other a short January vacation. This year we spent a few days in Gatlinburg.

With all the hubbub — both happy and sad — that filled our holidays, it felt great to “get-out-of-Dodge” for a few days of rest, relaxation, fun and food with friends.

Whenever we’re away from home, we find it easy to keep in touch with family and friends by using Facebook. Neither of us do much posting online, but we like to keep track of kids and grandkids while we’re away.

The big topic I read about last Friday was about the panic shopping that happened as the community prepared for “Snowmageddon.”

Late Friday afternoon, the National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Warning for all of Clinton County. The storm was scheduled to start early Saturday morning and continue for about 24 hours. Apparently, that ushered in a degree of mayhem at both our local Kroger and Walmart stores.

On Facebook, I read that cars filled both of their parking lots from the front doors to their gas pumps. Panicked shoppers were everywhere with carts overflowing with everything. Bread shelves were empty. If you needed milk and eggs, you were out of luck.

Our niece very accurately reminded her Facebook friends, “We live in Ohio people. They are not calling for conditions like the blizzard of ’78.”

She felt sorry for people who were merely dropping in the store for a routine purchase. Shoppers were lined up 10 to 20 deep in every check-out line. Many shoppers had a panicked looks on their faces as they tried to find that special item that might save them from the “White Death” that was bearing down on the community.

She was absolutely right. Folks, we do live in Ohio. We know what our winters can bring.

It’s going to get cold. The wind will blow, and the snow will fly. It’s all going to happen. Get prepared. Stay prepared. Always be prepared.

Every household in Clinton County should try to keep at least a week’s worth of food ready. I admit that our pantry isn’t always full, but if we were snowbound for an extended time, we would survive.

At some point we would be forced to crack open that can of butter beans that has been hiding behind the giant box of baking soda that takes up space in the back of the pantry.

I hate butter beans.

In the wee hours this morning, I was awakened by the harsh scraping sounds of the snowplow clearing Washington Avenue, but sitting here in the gray-dawn of Monday morning, I can’t help but admire the beauty of our snow-filled neighborhood.

I feel sorry for all the hard workers who cannot enjoy the wintry view from behind a plate-glass window.

As a former hospital employee, EMT, volunteer firefighter, safety director, county commissioner and mayor, I know what these workers are up against. It is cold, tough, tiring and often dangerous work.

We can all make their jobs easier by being personally prepared, and unless absolutely necessary, stay off the roads.

Besides having plenty of food available, have enough water for each person in the house to have a gallon of water per day. Before winter hits, double-check your home heating system. Have a back-up heat source available.

If all your preparations fail, have a secondary back-up plan to your primary back-up plan. Know where you can go to be safe and sheltered.

This is where friends and family help each other. That’s what a healthy community is all about.

If a major blizzard should hit again this winter, be prepared to care for your family and be prepared to check on friends and neighbors.

After all, we live in Ohio. Let’s stay prepared.

Randy Riley is former Mayor of Wilmington and former Clinton County Commissioner.

Randy Riley

Contributing columnist