Emergency preparedness has become an issue that many are more aware of, and awareness/preparedness is a great step for people to take! Being prepared is a big part of successfully weathering a storm, emotionally and physically. While 75% of Americans have an emergency preparedness plan it may be surprising to know that of those prepared only half have ever practiced evacuating their home.
According to Building Fire Safety Regulations, companies, schools, and government building are required to conduct practice evacuation drills (also known as emergency response exercises) annually. Those regulations are obviously not enforced in private homes, so the responsibility of evacuation practice is up to you, the homeowner to perform.
As anyone who plays sports or an instrument knows, practice is a key element of training for success. The same applies to practicing your emergency response procedure.
After you’ve prepared your emergency bag, also known as a “bug out bag” the next step is determining a procedure specifically catered to your family’s life and location.
Step One: Communication
Each family has different logistics to consider with planning for a quick getaway. Sit down with your family to formulate a plan that makes sense for your family. If your children are at an appropriate age to be included in the conversation, then include them!
Families are not always together when emergency strikes, so communication with the emergency coordinator of the places your family regularly spends time should be established. Find out who the emergency coordinator is and what the emergency plan is for the locations your family regularly spends time (daycare, work, school…).
You’ll be better prepared and more likely to safely reunite with your loved ones if you think ahead and communicate with others in advance of an emergency.
Step Two: Map It Out
Once you have a plan in place sit down together to review it. Write it out and review it in order to make sure you’ve taken all family members into account.
If you have elderly parents living with you or nearby you, make sure they are included in your emergency evacuation plan. If you have pets make sure they are accounted for as well.
Step Three: Practice a Live Run-through
As prepared as you are, there is nothing quite like the real deal. While a live run lacks the adrenaline that comes with emergency situations, it is a vital part of the planning stage. Aside from making the procedure feel more familiar it can also help to find deficiencies in your plan and lead to improving the preparatory measures you take.
Finally, review your plan and procedure regularly, ideally once a year. As the years go by your family dynamics may change, so make adjustments to your plan accordingly.
And remember, as Michael Jordan said, “Always play to win, whether during practice all the real game”.