Our View: Wait a minute — and be prepared

The Shawnee News-Star

“If you don’t like the weather in Oklahoma, wait a minute and it’ll change,” is a classic quote attributed to Will Rogers.

You've likely heard that phrase — or some variation of it — many times. And it's usually true, at least most of the time.

On Tuesday, Feb. 23, temperatures in Shawnee reached 74 degrees. It was warm, sunny and felt like a beautiful spring day.

At the same time last week, Oklahoma was shattering some records with negative-digit temperatures, with a low of -6 degrees in Shawnee that day and high daytime temperature of 6 degrees, according to the Mesonet.

Oklahoma is no stranger to wild weather — everything from severe storms, tornadoes, to wind, hail and floods, but Oklahoma also has some rough ice storms and winters too, and last week's arctic blast and snowstorm was brutal.

With such frigid temperatures and everyone trying to keep warm, the strain on the power grid forced some rolling blackouts, while freezing temps wreaked havoc on water lines and impacted water services. It was a different scenario back in October when the early fall ice storm downed power lines and left some without power for days.

But last week's extreme conditions caused a lot of issues with water. Many in Shawnee experienced little or low water pressure, and the city was still under a precautionary boil advisory Wednesday because of the all the line breaks.

While we can't control the weather or some of the problems it can bring, everyone can play an active role in helping prepare themselves and their households for any types of weather hazards that may arise.

True, our community comes together in times of need, such as bottled water collections and distributions that went on last week, but everyone taking an active role before a situation is always a good idea.

The website www.ready.gov has an abundance of information on how to prepare your household for disasters or emergencies that could arise, such as extreme weather.

Having a basic family emergency preparedness kit is suggested, with at least one gallon of water set aside per person, per day, with enough for three days for both drinking and sanitation. Other suggestions include a three-day supply of non-perishable food for each person, such as canned goods or other items that are ready to eat in case there is no power.

A battery-powered or hand-crank radio, flashlight, extra batteries and a basic first-aid kit also also recommended.

There are other suggestions as well, but every household can — and should — make a basic kit that fits their needs best.

If you had an emergency kit in place and used that water or other items last week while there was a need, please don't forget to replace your supply. And if you've never thought about having an emergency kit, now might be a good time to think about one, especially with Oklahoma's spring storm season also upon us.

With a little effort to prepare now, it can be one less worry later.

After all, this is Oklahoma.  It's not a matter of if, but when the next storm could impact us, so be ready.

And we don't like the weather, we just have be patient and get through it.