Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Practice Drills

Anyone who's ever been in the military knows, they beat things into your head with drills, drills, and more drills. You know why? It works. Right now, nearly 15 years after the fact, you could put me in the lower level of the engine room on the USS Stout, blindfold me, and I could find my way out to the weather deck in short order. After being turned all around. You could even block my path, and I'd find an alternative route. Blindfolded. I still remember where every single piece of equipment on that ship is (provided they haven't changed anything around....). I could draw you a complete deck plan.

Drills can help you and your family in the event of an emergency. Best of all, they don't cost anything. What drills do is establish everyone's role in an emergency, what they're supposed to do, how to do it, and it engraves the tasks in their minds so that they become automatic. No thought required. This is valuable beyond words when an emergency takes place.

First off, you have to make a list of possible scenarios. What can happen? A house fire, tornado, earthquake, or any other natural disaster are the obvious things. But also consider riots, food shortages, power outages, terrorist attack, or any of the other endless possibilities. You can't prepare for them all, obviously, but pick the ones you think are most likely to occur and go from there.

Sit down with your family, friends, survival group, or whatever, and make a list of emergency steps for each possible scenario, for each person involved. For example:

House Fire

*Establish evacuation routes from each room of the house, bearing in mind the most likely locations for a fire to start (garage, kitchen, furnace, fireplace, electrical panel....)

*Establish an assembly point for all members to assemble once clear of the house. (i.e. on the corner by the stop sign)

*Set up alternative lodging should your home become uninhabitable (Grandma's, friends, specific hotel, RV, etc...)

*Ensure that everyone is clear on when and where to go, what to bring, and what to do (including Grandma!)

*Establish secondary assembly point/ communication strategy should members become separated.

*Get everyone involved. "Jimmy, you get the dog. Sally, you bring the emergency pack. I'll grab the important papers and such (in their "ready to go" container), and Mom is in charge of ensuring everyone gets out."

*Practice! Have each member find their way outside, blindfolded (you won't be able to see in a smoke filled house!) Assemble at the predetermined point. Do a comm check (everybody calls Dad. If no answer, call Mom. And so on down the list....) Reiterate secondary assembly points, and procedures to follow in case of separation. Also, have everyone practice each other's role in case someone should become incapacitated. Know where your supplies are, and have them at the ready, in the same location, at all times. Have everyone lay their hands on everything that will be involved. Break equipment out and demonstrate it's use. Everyone should be familiar with everything.

Doing this will not only help your family or group in an emergency, it will also bolster their confidence in themselves. People panic because they don't know what to do. Panic kills. Knowing exactly what to do in a crisis will save the lives of your loved ones, reduce stress and anxiety on yourself, and help you become better prepared for virtually anything that might be thrown at you.


Phillip said...

Run the drill like it's the real thing, then you can run the real thing just like the drill.
Your post reminds me of a newspaper article I read several years ago about surviving plane crashes.
A lot of people die in "survivable" crashes because they don't react quickly. They're in shock and just sit there, or delay getting out until the smoke or fire get too close.
I think the reporter interviewed a couple who survived a particular crash and found that they had talked through the process of getting out before the plane even took off ... knowing that the closest exit row is three rows back, and the front exit is eight rows up. It made the difference.
That's what I do every time I fly now. I may not pay much attention to the flight attendants' drill, since I've heard it plenty of times before, but I for sure count the number of rows to the exits!
It's much the same in anything else. Assess the risks, think through (and practice!) the best responses.
Good luck to you, Mayberry. I've been reading your blog for a few weeks and it's a regular one for me now.

Mayberry said...

Thanks. Glad you enjoy, and back at'cha.