In all my training and years of emergency management experience, I would never have imagined that our global community would be in the position it’s in today; hiding in our homes, afraid of our neighbors and friends, in fear for our jobs and our livelihoods, and unsure of what might come next. I’ve become acutely aware of the fragility of our world and, consequently, the importance of being prepared for whatever may come next. We are human; optimistic, forward-thinking, focused on the positive. Hearing bad news— disasters, death, starvation, poverty—makes us uncomfortable, causes us to turn away and run back to the safety of a pleasant, happy environment. It’s little wonder, then, that the shelter-in-place orders enacted literally overnight and our sudden fixation on the steep curves of total coronavirus cases, new cases, deaths, and recoveries sent us into a panic buying frenzy. We weren’t prepared for this. Who could have been prepared for this?

We all know that panic buying is rooted in fear of shortages. We also instinctively know that fear is rooted in lack of preparation. After all, your fear is 100% dependent on you for its survival. Fortunately, this virus has put preparedness on the priority list of many. Last week I spoke at Sunrise Monterey Rotary Club, and tomorrow I present to the Carmel Residents’ Association. A couple weeks ago I presented to Mujeres en Accion. My recent clients have contacted me to tell me that the preparation I took them through gave them peace of mind as their neighbors and friends were rushing out to purchase copious amounts of toilet paper.

While presenting to groups is my preferred training methodology, our distanced society has ushered in a new era of video conferenced training. I’m becoming more technologically savvy as we all learn to do business from the comforts of our homes, and there’s no better time than the present to provide yourself with the calm that comes from being prepared. While we may see a light at the end of our isolated tunnel, we must understand that, even as we begin to reopen our economy, we may be asked to shelter again and that will be both mentally, and financially, taxing on many.

One of the most important lessons I can provide in our uncertain world right now is to take care of yourself and others. Reach out to those who are suffering. Support in any way you can; sew masks for first responders, donate to food banks, seek out ways to help. We are truly walking this road along with the entire world.

And although our current focus is on COVID-19, fire season is right around the corner. It’s a good time to start building defensible space around your home, practicing fire drills and escape plans, and developing communication plans with family and friends. There’s no harm in hoping for the best as long as you’re prepared for the worst.