How to Be More Prepared for the Unexpected

Like you, I woke up this morning to the horrific news about the shootings in the Colorado movie theater. The most recent report I heard was that 12 people were killed and 71 people were injured, randomly, just sitting in their seats trying to enjoy a movie. It is just unimaginable. I am heartsick for all of those innocent people and their loved ones.

I guess its the professional organizer in me. Or the Girl Scout. Or the control freak. When I hear of tragedies: shootings, accidents, sudden onsets of serious illness, victims of natural disasters, etc., I want to DO SOMETHING. Taking some sort of positive action makes me feel just a little bit more in control of my own life. Last year when a hurricane was approaching, for example, I gathered our emergency supplies. Being prepared made me feel more in control over a storm over which I had no control.

The trouble with that approach, however, is that you might not have the luxury of time to get prepared. Unlike an approaching storm, we usually don’t receive advance notice that we’re going to have a stroke, or be in a car accident, or be shot while minding our own business in what we thought was a safe environment. We don’t like to think about the possibility of those things happening to ourselves or to someone we love. But sometimes they do.

We can never be totally prepared for those situations, nor can we seal ourselves in a bubble to prevent them from happening. But there are things we can do now to get ourselves organized just in case the unthinkable happens.

I wonder about those shooting victims. Did they have identification with next-of-kin to contact in an emergency? Do their families have access to their medical records? Had they created durable powers of attorney in case they can’t speak for themselves? Do they have advance health care directives?

Do you?

If not, I urge you to take the time to create these documents. Do it this weekend. I have created a template to organize your medical records. If you’d like to receive an electronic copy, please e-mail me at

Please continue to pray for the people who were injured and for the families who lost loved ones this morning.