Superstorm Sandy has been a wakeup call to all of us about some of the basic things we take for granted - like food, heat and electricity. And even two weeks after the storm, with temperatures dropping below freezing, a lot of people are still without electricity. And who can forget the 6-hour lines of people in New York and New Jersey waiting to fill up their cars?

Those pictures reminded me of why I decided – long ago – to never let my gas drop below half a tank. My Aunt Donna was a single mother living in Capitola, California. And she got one of those dreaded middle-of-the-night phone calls that no parent ever wants to get: Your son has been in a serious car accident.

She had been planning to gas up her car first thing in the morning – and her tank was nearly empty. Her son had been taken to a hospital at least two hours away. And she frantically raced from one closed gas station to another, praying that she wouldn’t run out of gas before she could buy more. And she was crying, because of the valuable time being wasted, when she should be racing to her son’s bedside.

She eventually found an open station – and her son completely recovered, after surviving numerous surgeries, and a long stay in the ICU. But she was traumatized by the experience – and I never forgot the story.

Bottom line: You never know when there’s going to be an emergency – whether it’s an earthquake, a statewide blackout, or a middle-of-the-night phone call. And nobody wants to be frantically searching for an open gas station when they’re desperately needed elsewhere.