I've learned that smoke detetectors don't stop fires, they only warn you of the problem.
I've learned that carbon monoxide detectors do the same thing.
Seatbelts and carseats, again, work the same way. Having your family buckled in properly won't keep you from getting in an accident, but it will increase the chances of everyone walking away unharmed.
Knowing the number to poison control doesn't mean your child won't find their way into something they shouldn't, it only means that you will know who to call when they do.
I've learned that being aware of your unborn baby's movement and receiving proper prenatal care doesn't mean you will go on to deliver a healthy newborn.
In almost eight years of marriage we have learned all of these things the hard way. We had a carbon monoxide scare a few months after moving into our first home and have had fire, car accident, and poison control calls all in the last 6 months. It's been almost 3 years since Kenna died, but I still recall how unprepared I was for her death. In each case, we were following the rules to our best understanding, and yet...
It's hard to walk through our home now and see the smoke detetectors torn out of the walls (my guess is because they were annoying the fire fighters), the garage fire extinguisher sitting on the garage windowsill and the kitchen extinguisher sitting on the front porch. In our basement is a yet unused severe weather emergency comfort kit with bottled water, blankets, books, dry cereal, flashlights, and a battery radio. It is still sitting on a shelf, relatively unharmed.
It's hard to walk through and see these things and know that you were prepared. You had a family meeting spot outside in case of fire. You had a written list of items to take out of the house in case of an evacuation. Seeing evidence of your preparedness and precaution is only really a reminder that you were one of the unlucky ones who had to use the plans that were in place.
Shortly after the fire, my dad commented that full replacement cost fire insurance is a lottery that you hope you lose. Sure, it was a gamble to pay a little bit more on our homeowners policy each month for our personal article protection and full replacement cost on the building. I think all of emergency preparedness is like that.
I've also learned that there is more to being prepared than simply having the right equipment in place. There is a huge part of it that comes down to having the right conversations with your kids before hand. I don't know that I ever took those conversations seriously, but I'm grateful that we had them.
I've learned that no matter how many times you think that you are somehow immune from these life events, you aren't.
I've learned that these things don't just happen to *other* people.
I've learned that no matter how prepared you are, you are never really prepared.