In the Midwest, we know the extreme weather drill. Hit the grocery store for staples, fill-up the gas tank (add HEET if the wind chills will be -30), and wait for the call that school will be cancelled. We do not pull the mini-van out of the garage without a sleeping bag in the trunk, non-perishable snacks, and hats and gloves all around.
Or so I thought…
During this last frigid-go-round, a story made the local news about a bus driver who felt forced to drive a bus without working heat. The early morning temps were just below 0 with a wind chill to boot, so the lack of heat on the bus quickly became unbearable. In pain from the cold, the driver insisted upon pulling over and students were rescued by another bus. School administrators were present to facilitate the transfer. According to the official statement from the school, the time students spent on the frigid bus was estimated to be approximately twenty minutes. The bus driver (who had been on the bus much longer) was treated for hypothermia and released.
It was minor incident in the grand scheme of things – particularly with other news of the car/truck pile-ups and devastating conditions further south. What surprised me was reaction to the bus incident from some local parents. The temperature was -3, with wind chills gusting the temp down to -25 but, from the ensuing discussions, I discovered some parents are in the habit of sending their kids to school without a hat, gloves, or even a coat. They were upset because the assumption is a bus should always have heat.
There is not always heat on the bus!
As parents, when we hop into the mini-van to run to the CVS drive-thru in extreme weather, do we pause to grab a hat and gloves? I know, the heat is cranked and we do not anticipate needing them, and we all have our phones. But what if…what if…the Prius in front of our mini-van skids? And we swerve? And it “looks like we are going to be stuck here for a while.” In case of emergency, flight attendants instruct caregivers to put on their own oxygen mask before assisting others. And as parents, this is something we sometimes forget.
As a Professional Organizer, it is my privilege to work alongside parents in a home that has gotten out of control. It is my job not only to empower them, but to sort, organize, and create systems for those all important items – like matching gloves, non-perishable snacks, and essential medications. We make easy retrieval of these items a priority.
We are blessed to live in a world with a host of modern conveniences, but I have noticed it can leave children ill-prepared to manage in times of emergency. A cell phone battery does not last long in the cold, or soaking wet in a downpour! Parents can lead by example to teach children to prepare for (and expect!) the unexpected.
“Weather is a great metaphor for life — sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, and there’s nothing much you can do about it but carry an umbrella.” ~ Terri Guillemets
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