The recent ice storms stretching across the nation’s midsection have brought a stark reminder about what is necessary to sustain life. I’m not talking about comfort - I am talking about life. The residents and business owners of many communities are dealing with no electricity, no heat, and no water - the very things necessary to sustain life.

From what I hear in the reports, it may be weeks before power is restored to everyone. By then, the lives and the holiday plans of many people will have been permanently disrupted. I thank my lucky stars that my visit to Tulsa, Oklahoma, wrapped up about five days before the ice storm paralyzed most of the state and shut down the airport I flew out of. What may have been a slight inconvenience for me and my family pales, however, to the major inconvenience many people in Oklahoma and surrounding states are experiencing now.

Let’s look at one of the life-sustaining factors that I mentioned before: heat. This time of year the temperatures dip well into freezing in the areas struck by the ice storm. The basic necessity of staying warm has been deprived. Furnaces that our trade installs and services are now sitting idle, unable to perform their basic function. I would imagine that scores of contractors are also sitting idle, waiting for the flip of the switch that will send electrical current to their customer’s HVAC equipment.

Maybe this is a time to reflect on how important heat is to both our customers and our trade. It is not something to be taken for granted or taken lightly. If you never before knew the importance of your products and services, you sure as heck know now.

I’ll say a prayer for the people who are suffering right now and for our HVAC businesses that are also suffering. Let’s hope the 2007 holiday season will bring one of the greatest presents to all of these people: warmth.