Being a comedian, I fly the friendly skies for a living. This morning, on board my flight home to LAX, waiting for take-off, I decided to read my complimentary hotel copy of USA Today. The Haiti earthquake, of course, is still the biggest news story and while flipping and skimming through the articles and photos about the devastation and relief efforts, the mom in me just couldn't be contained - I started to cry. It's no fun crying in public, but it's especially no fun crying on a plane. In the middle seat. Between two strange men. It's down right embarrassing but I couldn't stop myself.
A little over a year ago we had a small, but slightly frightening, earthquake here in SoCal. I was living in Van Nuys at the time and it really shook my three story building. I had felt a few tiny quakes since coming to Los Angeles in 2001, but this was the first one that actually scared me. I yelled to my nanny, who was in the living room with my 1 year old daughter and this is the dialogue we had:
"It's an earthquake and it's kind of a big one!"
"Um... pick up the baby! Maybe we should put on our shoes?"
And then it was over. Fortunately, it wasn't "the big one", but do you think I've learned any more about earthquake preparedness since then? The truth is, a little, but not much. I did learn that you're supposed to get under something sturdy, not stand in a doorway, don't run outside - but that's about it. Having grown up in Minnesota, I can tell you EXACTLY what to do during a tornado, but earthquakes are a mysterious beast to this Midwestern girl.
It's so easy to put things off without daily reminders. As a single mom, it seems like I have a thousand other things more important to do each day. Much more important than assembling an emergency supply kit of things we will probably never use and devising and discussing a plan with my nanny and my ex. But the Haiti quake - the pictures of orphaned children, sobbing mothers, bodies in the street - made me realize that it IS important. Would I ever be able to forgive myself if my daughter or nanny was trapped in our house without at least a supply of clean water? If they were injured without basic first aid supplies? Never. Getting prepared is on my list of things to do tomorrow and if you're not ready, then it should be on your to-do list too. I'm not an alarmist, but I am a realist. A procrastinating one, but a realist, nonetheless.
Every part of the country has it's natural disasters - know your risks and the dos and don'ts for your region. For those of you in earthquake areas, FEMA and MyGreatHome.com are two very informative sites that can help you prepare and maybe even survive someday. Let's hope we never need to use this information!
I always miss my little girl when I go away on work trips, but I have always been lucky enough to come home to a healthy child and a safe home. I hope she never has to experience the terror of a major natural disaster like the one in Haiti, but I can do my best to be prepared and help her through it in case she does. My heart goes out to all of the people affected by the Haiti earthquake and may those who perished rest in peace. Especially the children.