Think about how much time each member of your family spends outside the home. Work, school, socializing, often it seems like the only time we’re at home as a family is when we’re all sleeping, if even then. So, the odds of disaster striking when one or more family members are out and about is much greater than it happening when everyone is all in one place.
This can lead to a very tense and anxiety-laden situation. The thought of not knowing where your loved ones are, if they are ok, will be extremely nerve-wracking. Can they get home from where they are? What if you need to evacuate the home? Do they know where to find you?
During a typical day, I’m working about 30 miles from home. I have children attending two different schools. My wife is usually home but could be grocery shopping, taking the dogs to the vet, or otherwise just be out. If something major happened, we could all be going in different directions.
Sit down and make plans now.
First, determine who will pick up the kids from school. Make sure this is communicated clearly to every member of the family. You might also consider having a note placed in your child’s school file indicating that in the event of an emergency, you will pick up the child at school and they should not be placed on the bus home. If your child is old enough to be driving themselves to school, talk to them about the importance of coming straight home in an emergency, rather than going out sightseeing.
Next, decide on a rallying point that is away from home. This is to be used in the event that you can’t get to your home for some reason. Pick a specific location that every member of your family will know how to get to, such as a local restaurant or a relative’s home on the other side of town. The first destination would be to come home, of course. The rallying point is only if home can’t be reached.
Third, pick a relative or friend who lives outside the area to act as a communication hub. Each member of the family should be instructed to call this person to fill them in on each person’s location and status. The reason for this is sometimes local phone systems get overwhelmed and calls won’t go through. By having a contact out of the area, you can still have a way to at least relay messages. Make sure you volunteer yourself to do the same for that person.
Another thing to keep in mind is that even if phone lines and cell towers are being swamped, text messages will often still get through. Email is another option, given the advent of smart phones and wi-fi for laptops.
If you have a trusted neighbor who is normally home when everyone in your family is gone for the day, perhaps ask them to keep an eye on the house and let you know when family members are home safe.
Knowing who is supposed to do what will go a long way toward lessening panic and anxiety. Granted, a parent will always worry until the child is safe in their arms. The idea here though is to make plans and communicate them to everyone involved, making sure each person knows exactly what they are supposed to do.
Your assignments this week:
1) Draw up your plans for regrouping in an emergency. Talk about them in detail with everyone involved so there are no misunderstandings or miscommunications.
2) When was the last time you practiced making a fire? If it has been a while, get out there this week and brush up on your skills. Take it one step further and once you have the fire going, cook a meal using it.