The Snake You Do Not See Is The One That Bites You

Once again, I interrupt a blog series to comment on a current event.

If you read the Internet news with any regularity this week, you almost certainly will have seen the story of the Military Veteran who, with two of his young children, went for a short hike and ended up dying from exposure on a southeast Missouri Ozark trail.

According to reports, this man was an experienced hiker and outdoors enthusiast. The man and two of his sons, aged 8 and 10, were on a short hike in the Missouri Ozarks when falling temperatures and heavy rains caught them unaware.

Their bodies were found on the trail, cold and wet. The man was dead at the scene, and the two boys were transported to a local hospital where efforts to revive them failed.

Our hearts and prayers go out to the family of these people and we mean no disrespect to them or anyone when we discuss what goes wrong when we step into the wilderness.

I wish there was one catch-all formula for when we should pack or carry at least a simple Survival kit. We can set a standard for ourselves, but we have also got to have the determination and self-discipline to see it through.

I have spoken and written of preparedness many times to many people, and one of the things I stress is the need to prepare for all conceivable eventualities in a manner consistent with the activity.

In other words, if you are going to take a long drive through the desert  - take extra water/antifreeze coolant, take extra water for each person, and a way to signal for help if your cell phone is out of range. An extra coat and blanket plus a way to start a fire easily is also recommended.

Or, say you were going to take your kids on a day hike - why not have each child carry part of a kit that includes a way to signal for help, a fire starter, perhaps a small tarp or poncho for each person…

It is always easy to sit and pontificate on what we should have or could have done in a situation that is now passed. It is especially easy to second guess the actions one person took or didn’t take when we are convinced in our own mind that the action we think we would have taken would have been the “correct” choice for that situation.

I entitled this entry “The Snake You Do Not See Is the One That Bites You” because it applies here. It is always when you are not thinking of Survival that Mr. Murphy (“Anything that can go wrong … will”) comes to visit and leaves chaos and confusion as his parting gifts.

It is hard to be hyper-vigilant on a regular 24/7/365 basis. But one of the ways we are able to relax in some moments is because we prepared for those moments in advance.

When it comes to snakes, I am not overly concerned because I have handled them occasionally for most of my life from age 11. I carry a Snake Hook and a Snake Grabber in my Patrol car for those times when one of our citizens gets an unwelcome visitor in his home.

As long as I can see the snake, I am not too worried about getting bit because I can see and anticipate his movements and actions. But, it is always in the back of my mind when dealing with the snakes of the world (not just the reptiles) that when there is one – there may very well be another one just out of sight. The _____ (fill in the blank with snake, bad guy, scorpion, tornado, flash flood, electrical line, winter storm, etc.) that you do not see or anticipate is the one that bites you when your back is turned or your attention is elsewhere.

I am not suggesting that we should all live in a state of constant fear where we stay locked up in our bunkers (I don’t have one, by the way) and wait for the bad things to come our way. I am suggesting that we take simple steps to prepare have for the eventuality that while we are enjoying the outdoors in any way, we have taken some simple pre-planning steps to ensure that we have the best chance possible if our “best laid plans of mice and men” goes wrong.

I end with this: As far as what I do in my main occupation, I want to do a good job for my department, my city, my God and myself, and I want to do my job in such a way that I am never featured as the subject of a training video that ends where my name is shown carved on the Texas Peace Officers Memorial in Austin.  But, if this does happen, then may my experience benefit others so that they avoid the same fate as I.

Learn from the mistakes and fates of others to avoid the same happening to you and your loved ones.

"Fortuna favet præparaverat  -  Fortune Favors the Prepared!"