Life Advice



Always Be Prepared

Annie Lane on

Dear Annie: There's a lot that you and your family can do to alleviate anxiety during these stressful times, especially as we face the potential for an expanding war beyond Ukraine. There are new weapons in play now: cyberattacks, the use of economic sanctions and the expansion of warfare into space.

Using my past experience as emergency services coordinator for the cities I've worked in, I'm alleviating my own anxiety by going down my preparedness checklist. I'd like to share this with your readers. Even if my fears don't materialize, it doesn't hurt to be prepared for long-term power outages and natural disasters.

Earthquakes, floods, fires, broken economies and other man-made disasters can hit at any time. Our power grids are particularly vulnerable. There can be power outages and loss of communication capabilities, even if war doesn't materialize. Such outages occur in any natural disaster. At minimum, people should be prepared to be on their own without any outside aid for at least 72 hours.

I'm making sure I have flashlights with fresh batteries, some way to cook meals, my medicines, some stockpiled food and water, ways to keep warm, a working battery-powered radio, a way to access funds, ready cash in small denominations, and small items to barter with.

As for an extra supply of food, I don't recommend buying expensive "disaster food," which usually sits unused until it expires and is unusable when you may need it. Instead, stock up on nonperishable food you would normally eat anyway, such as rice, noodles and canned goods. Then eat them as you routinely would so that you are continuously cycling in fresh supplies.

It helps to have an evacuation plan, if you don't expect to stay where you are. Have an alternative place to stay. Gas pumps don't work in power outages. Keep your gas tank topped off, and don't let it get below a quarter of a tank. Keep a gasoline-siphoning device, gas can and jumper cables in your car. Keep your vehicle(s) in good working order.


If you have a camper or camping gear, that's great; have it ready to go. Have alternate routes planned out ahead of time and paper maps because your smartphone or geolocator may not be working. Don't wait until the last minute to leave because you'll just be stuck in traffic, and some traffic lanes may be closed for emergency vehicle use only. Have a contact outside your area where your distant relatives can check on your status and you on theirs.

There's a lot that neighborhoods and local communities can do to prepare for any disaster. Check with your local community's emergency services coordinator (usually at the Fire Department) to find out if they have any publications on preparedness for local residents. Enroll in CPR classes, consider volunteering and training for search and rescue, etc. -- Alleviating Anxiety Through Action

Dear Alleviating Anxiety: Thank you for your helpful suggestions for being prepared for potential disasters. It is always great to hear from people who have worked in the profession they are talking about.


"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane's second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to



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