Misguided Teens Ignore Real Danger


Gracie Woidat, Lifestyle editor

Lamorinda has recently been afflicted by fires, power shutdowns, earthquakes, poor air quality, robberies, and even a shooting on Halloween night that claimed 5 lives.

1 might assume that residents have taken heed, reflected and formulated a plan for action in response to these events. Unfortunately, the vast majority remains defiantly light-hearted, seemingly unfazed by these threats.

Being prepared for emergencies is extremely important, especially living in California, considering the types of natural disasters we endure are earthquakes and wildfires.

While other states have natural disasters as well, most are predictable, and citizens are given some sort of warning in advance so that they have time to prepare and evacuate. However, events such as earthquakes and wildfires often occur without any notice, giving even less time to react. That is why it is crucial to prepare yourself and your family ahead of time.

My experience, and the experiences of some of my acquaintances, has revealed how underprepared we all are for an emergency.

Sophomore Sophia Harju, who was evacuated during the Merrill fire at Sanders Ranch in October, said she grabbed her phone and her dog, but “definitely wished [she] was more prepared,” as she left many things such as money, passports, and schoolwork inside her home.

Unfortunately, the plague of power outages and threat of fire have made students more concerned about printing homework and studying for tests in the dark than for the safety of their own families. While this drive to succeed can be a positive thing, it has also resulted in students mis-prioritizing their schoolwork over their safety.

Seriously, what is more important? Figuring out how to print your essay, or figuring out how to not go hungry during 3 days without electricity powering your fridges?

Our community has been demonstrating nothing but “1st world problems.” I understand that there are other concerns, but a majority of the comments I have overheard from my peers have been incredibly superficial considering the very real dangers.

I don’t believe that the problem is a lack of education on emergency preparedness among high schoolers. There are plenty of easy, and frankly quite obvious, ways to prepare yourself, such as simply keeping a “grab-and-go” kit ready with some necessities in the case of an evacuation. And we’ve endured plenty of presentations from local authorities during our elementary school days about the importance of having a set evacuation and meeting plan with your family.

The main issue here is that a majority of high schoolers are hearing, but not listening to this advice. They are so self-absorbed and overconfident they have adopted a facade of invincibility, with a “that may have happened to them but it won’t happen to me” mindset.

It’s no secret that the lack of full development in teens’ brains can lead to reckless behavior and throwing caution to the wind, but there’s a difference between foolishness and willful ignorance.

An example of this catastrophic stupidity is the Oregon Eagle Creek fire that was caused by a teen setting off fireworks in the dry Columbia River Gorge canyon, starting a massive wildfire that burned over 48,000 acres, as reported by Mercury News in May 2018. The teen is reportedly now on the hook for $36 million in damages. While this is an extreme example, it demonstrates that a little common sense can help you avoid potentially life-changing disaster.

A more local and recent example would be the previously mentioned Merrill fire, as it was reportedly caused by a vape pen, according to an article by Kron 4 published in October.

Living in a community as generally safe and comfortable as Lamorinda lulls residents into a false sense of security. These past weeks have certainly proved that, so why aren’t we taking action to protect ourselves with some simple preparations?

Regardless of where you live, there are always going to be tons of possible emergencies that could hit you at anytime. Not only that, but the effects of climate change have already revealed themselves in the forms of chaotic hurricanes and disastrous wildfires. The future is uncertain and unpredictable, so doing as much as you can to prepare yourself is the rational thing to do, and would certainly grant some peace of mind.

I implore you to be more aware about what you need to do in order to keep yourself and your family safe.