Thinking Precedes Sending

When email was first used at my workplace, I would sometimes receive messages that ended, “If you don’t receive this message, please let me know.” But that was quite some time ago and it has been several years since I’ve read that closing line in a message.
During the recent devastating snowstorm in the Northeast, I was reminded of those early email messages when my sister, Ilene, forwarded to me one of the daily updates she received from her electric company. She was one of the lucky ones. She only lost power for about twenty-four hours. Some households were without power for many days.
Imagine what you might have said when, after days without power, you opened your email to the following “Important Safety Messages” sent to you by the concerned staff at your electric company.
  • “Downed wires should always be considered "live."  STAY AWAY FROM ALL DOWNED LINES.  Do not approach or drive over a downed line and do not touch anything with which it might be in contact.  To report a downed wire or other visible equipment damage, call 1-800 ... . Provide the street as well as the nearest cross street.
  • Check on the safety of your elderly neighbors.  See if they are safe and if they need extra blankets or other help.  Contact local officials if assistance is needed.
  • Do not try to use a gas oven or range to heat a room. The appliance will deplete oxygen from the air, causing asphyxiation or deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Be cautious if using space heaters.  Read and follow the manufacturer's instructions and heed warning labels.  Be sure all members of the household understand how to operate space heaters safely.”
It was sweet that those electric company people had the best interests of their customers at heart. Really very sweet!  And, if the customers weren’t asphyxiated by gas ranges and didn’t burn down their homes with space heaters (electric?), probably many got a laugh at the expense of those who wrote the thoughtful daily updates and then had senior moments before pressing “send.”

But those Northeasterners aren’t the only ones who have apparent lapses of memory when sending messages to people who have lost power. High winds in our state over the last few days have caused severe damage and loss of power in some areas. While searching the internet yesterday, this message came up on the local TV station feed I have on my computer.
“Just got off the phone with Custer County Sheriff. He says there is a lot of damage west of Westcliffe. Could be about 75 downed power poles. He says some homes may not get power back for a couple of days. So, if you don’t have power by tonight, you might want to start making some plans.”
Okey-dokey, the next time I lose power, I’ll try “making some plans” while running around the neighborhood checking to see if anyone needs blankets. I’ll just pray that I don’t step on one of those downed electric lines.


  1. It is rather like the TV traffic report in which the announcer says, "If you are driving on 465, be aware that there is an overturned semi on the eastbound off-ramp at exit 17."

    I have brain-blips myself, but where is the backup resource for these public messengers?

  2. Pretty crazy, huh? And those messages came daily. You would think, at some time, that someone would have realized that most people would not read them. I also got daily recorded phone updates from the West Orange mayor. Hmmm.....what about those who do not have electricity and only have digital or cell phones? Flat out of luck once again! I didn't know about the power outages out your way.

  3. Vanilla, I'm sure my next "brain-blip" will happen soon now that I've posted about others.

    Ilene, I still have to laugh about the different agencies sending messages to the thousands without power in your area. Amazing that someone with power didn't write back, "Cut it out, Silly!"