Wilfredo Lee, Associated Press
When it comes to any type of natural disaster, the better prepared we are, the less we will panic.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — We should never underestimate the power and breadth of natural disasters. When experts warn of an impending storm, we should not change the channel or dismiss their words, despite those who feel storm reports have been overblown in the past.

Having lived all over the United States, I've seen how only one natural disaster can change lives forever. My family and I have learned the importance of being prepared and, as many in the U.S. have been glued to television sets, watching Hurricane Sandy make its move up the East Coast, we've seen how graphs and charts showing the path of the hurricane can cause anxiety. My wife began our family’s preparations early on, while I was out of town and not expecting to return until the day before the storm was to arrive. Her preparation helped our family feel at ease when the hurricane hit Virginia Beach.

Here is what our family did to prepare for this hurricane:

Water and food. We made sure we had enough water and food for our family. We added a little extra in case our neighbors or members of our church might need some help.

Gas in the cars. We filled both our cars with gas. The sooner people can do this, the better. The lines can get long as the storm draws closer.

Flashlights and batteries. We tested our flashlights and emergency radio, and purchased extra batteries to ensure we had a supply for all the different items that use batteries.

Extra gas, if needed. We filled our extra gas tanks for the generator. We had invested in a generator knowing this would be an important resource should the power go out for an extended period of time.

Charge the technology. We had our boys charge any technologies they would want to use if the power went out. This included the game systems, tablets for reading and devices for listening to music.

Each of these is simple but, if people are willing to take the time to prepare before a storm hits, they can minimize panic and save lives. Too often we hear of people who underestimated a storm's impact and see the heartbreaking aftermath.

1 comment on this story

As someone who is living through Hurricane Sandy, I feel good about the preparations my family took prior to the storm. Driving to work I could see some of the impacts of this hurricane, and they are are not over. Although some of the winds may be dying down, the rain continues and the flooding is worsening.

Another important aspect of preparation is the impact on family and friends who can only watch or listen to reports about what is happening. Families can be comforted knowing their loved ones have prepared.

I can’t help but think about the simple motto of the Boy Scouts of America, "Be Prepared." The better prepared people are, the better off they will be and the less panic they will feel. Although preparation can’t eliminate the storm, it can help ease the emotional side effects.

Seth Saunders is branch president of the Pembroke Branch (Spanish) and president of the Pink Shoe Hero Foundation. Seth has been married 16 years to his amazing wife Amber and is the proud father of three wonderful sons.