Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Preparedness Drills - DIY

AP Wirephoto
In order for you to become proficient in handling emergencies and getting a feel for how your plan works you should drill just like safety professionals do. What better way for you to experience how it feels to be without power, lights, running water and whatever realistic situations you might encounter?
Another form of this drill would be for you to ask the family to prepare (on short notice - much like an unannounced fire drill at work/school) to evacuate your residence because of an overturned tanker or gas leak or flooding. Have you seen the media footage of people with advance notice of impending calamity needlessly carrying out their plasma tv's? "Unprepared" would be a very kind word to use.
Many people seemingly don't have to drill because they have this experience first hand - floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, fires etc.. Many of these folks are already well versed and often ready to respond. Most people still are not.
So, for those who aren't and want to actually see themselves and families in action - now is as good a time as any. Some family members may be reluctant to be involved but considering the consequences of not being prepared are great - it will be a time to test interpersonal skills as well.
Potential scenarios:
Shelter in place for one full day - yes- say 24 hours. No phones, no electricity, no running water - no TV. What back up plans are in place to deal with this and what equipment is set aside for this - use it like you would during the real deal.
Mock Evacuation to another location or relatives house packing your gear out in your vehicle or whatever conveyance you decided to use. City residents may have to try alternate means to get to their destination...make the drill as realistic as possible. Test your emergency shelter or vehicle equipment realistically. If you live in an industrial area you may need to recognize hazards and plan for emergencies that might occur. Don't wait for others to dream up these scenarios for you. They will be a long time coming!
Reroute Drill. Devise an alternate route home from school, work or a place you frequent due to an emergency like a plane crash, fire or traffic accident (fairly common) but close off your normal route and see what difficulties or challenges you encounter. You might even consider offering this as a game for the kids....within reason depending on age. Practice a first aid scenario and you can put a participant 's arm in a sling to replicate an injured limb.
Remember these situations are quite possible and it is better to know now what it might be like and how to compensate because it may save your life.
Post Drill:
When you finish your prescribed exercise, debrief everyone and make necessary changes to your plans. The experience and insight you gain from these exercises is the key as your actual plan may not adequately deal with the emergency exactly as you planned.
Your decision making skills and increased knowledge from interacting with your team will now allow you to make those important choices more decisively. Don't be dissuaded from conducting a drill because of what someone naysayer says - they will always be the first one's over to get YOUR help in an emergency.
Do this with trusted family or some friends and try it being low key at first. You don't want the whole neighborhood knowing you are the prepared one and having them show up at your door - or shelter, because they are feeling too entitled or downright lazy to take care of themselves.
We live in an entitlement (aka nanny state) society now and many expect that costly helicopter rescue to save their day - reality is something else altogether!
Seeing that government has not adequately involved citizens in any realistic drills or school training - you need to do it yourself. More to follow.

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