How is a Water Heater Like a Car Seat? Or, Being Prepared for What MIGHT Happen

Monday morning, we woke up to a broken water heater. In a sense, I knew it had to be coming. It was the original water heater that had come with the house, which was built 12 years ago. Water heaters don't last forever. On the other hand, I had really, really hoped it would be something I didn't have to worry about for a long, long time still. I wasn't prepared, financially or otherwise, to have my water heater break.



But, it happened, as we knew it would. A couple of cold November nights did us in. Water leaking from the bottom of a cold heater, a call to a contractor friend for a plumber referral, and four hours later, a brand new water heater in place of the old one, and us out a good chunk of money for the pleasure. At least now I don't have to worry about it for a while! It happened, it's over, and we move on.

I bring this up because it illustrates a point I try to make with car seats. How is a water heater like a car seat? you might ask. Well, I'll tell you.

It isn't.

But I was incredibly relieved that I had had the foresight not to store anything too close to the water heater that might be damaged by water leaking. Closest to it were a stack of plastic storage tubs. The bottom of one and the top of another were damp, but nothing inside was damaged. There was a roll of brown packing paper on the floor (I don't even know where it came from), a box of Kleenex (oh well), and otherwise nothing was lost or damaged by the water. Also, just last week I had bought a 5 gallon bucket, which was conveniently right near the water heater, which I could put under the drips to catch them before more water spread through the garage.

The chances of the water heater bursting or causing any major problems were small. There was no way to predict if or when it would happen. Sometimes you can know it's time for a new water heater before it starts leaking. Sometimes, G-d forbid, the water heater can burst and make a real mess.

The point is, I prepared for something that might happen, and my preparations paid off. We didn't lose anything important to the water.

And this is where the car seat comparison comes in, you see? You install your car seats properly, you buckle your kids in properly, you wear your seat belt, and you drive safely, not because you know for sure that an accident will happen, but because one might. You think ahead and prepare for a possibility. Indeed, the chances of being in a car accident are frighteningly high, so it makes sense to be prepared for the eventuality. Just like we carry car insurance and homeowners' or renters' insurance, just like we put money in a college fund and an emergency fund, just like we fasten our furniture to the walls and don't store valuable items near the water heater, we use our car seats properly every time - every time - because one morning you might wake up to a leaking water heater - I mean - G-d forbid, you might get in an accident on the way to school and be ever-so-grateful you used your car seats properly that day.

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