My mother likes to tell the story of one summer day when I was about five years old, living in the tiny town of Marengo, Ohio. It was a windy day – enough to move the tree branches and leaves, but not enough to indicate a storm or any other danger. Mom recounts how I stood at the back screen door, terrified to go outside because of the wind. And being very concerned about our picnic table blowing away.
Hi. My name is Sarah Layton. I work at the American Red Cross, and I have an irrational fear of the wind.
From that illustration, I’m sure you can image how I reacted whenever a real storm approached. I was an expert weather radar reader from a young age, at least enough to know when I should panic. Which was often. I would gather all my stuffed animals and dolls, stuff them into my Beauty and the Beast sleeping bag, and schlep the whole thing down to the stone cellar. I’d also gather a thermos of water and graham crackers.
I’m sure many of us have humorous or cute things we did as children when we didn’t understand a situation fully, or we were scared. This is relatable. But I’m sure we can also all relate to maturing, and coming to terms with the truth of the “knowledge is power” concept. I was excited to come work for the Red Cross as an exciting career move, but also as a chance to face my weather (and really, any other disaster).
My prayers as a kid went something like “Lord, protect me from fires, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, volcanoes [yes, in Ohio. I didn’t say I was rational], and anything else that might hurt me, my family, and my town.” Luckily, I now have actionable information to help prepare for any number of disasters with Red Cross resources.
I took a first aid and CPR/AED course. I’ve downloaded all our Red Cross apps to set up alerts and have information at my fingertips for all types of emergencies. Instead of opening up all the windows in the house and bolting for the cellar when a tornado might be approaching, I know some handy resources to distinguish myths from facts. And instead of a grabbing a thermos of water and graham crackers, I’ve got the full three days’ supply of water and food stocked in my apartment.
Lending a Hand
This doesn’t mean I still don’t freak out a bit unnecessarily when dark clouds roll in and tornado warnings scroll across the TV screen. But you’ll find me out in front this time, giving digital hugs to others who are scared and sharing important information for others in harm’s way.
Knowledge is power. Face your fears. And just maybe, save a life.