Practice makes perfect, and when it comes to your emergency plans, there’s no room for anything less than perfection.
Just kidding! Preparing in any way at all is a huge step up from doing nothing.
When you’re first creating your emergency plans, include your whole family. Start with a discussion about all the benefits of being prepared to get everyone on the same page and excited about preparedness (or at least willing to participate).
Once you’ve established your plans, set times to revisit them and do your drills. If you want to drill twice a year, set your calendar reminders for dates that are convenient for your whole family, or plan to drill whenever the time changes.
Let the phrases “spring forward” and “fall back” be your reminder to spring into action and fall back on your excellent emergency plans!
There are three ways to practice your drills:
- Tabletop Drills
(Like Dungeons & Dragons for disaster preparedness.)
Drill with your minds! Grab your emergency plan and a piece of paper. Spread everything out on a table and go over every detail with your family. Use maps and diagrams to explain evacuation routes and safe places. Tabletop drills facilitate communication in a stress-free environment.
- Functional Drills
(Pretend you’re LARPing at the Ren Faire.)
Simulate the emergency without actually using equipment or contacting anyone outside the household. If you’re simulating a wildfire evacuation drill, note which belongings to pack and pretend to load them in the car. You don’t need to actually pack bags or leave your neighborhood; just move your bodies through the motions and make sure everyone knows what to do.
- Full-Scale Drills
(Actually go LARPing at the Ren Faire.)
Get as close to the real thing as you can. Use equipment, make phone calls, and follow your emergency plan down to the detail. Include your extended family and test out your communication plans to see if they work.
A tabletop drill is a great way to get started after you create your drill. When you first develop your drill, do a functional drill after your tabletop drill so everyone can practice what they’ve just learned. Life gets busy, but make a point to schedule a functional drill at least once a year (more often if disasters are more common in your area).
Of course, if you make drills routine, people start to expect them, which isn’t anything like a real emergency.
Consider throwing in a few surprise drills to keep your family members on their toes.
This will keep your emergency drills at home spicy, while also giving your kids lots of fun anecdotes about their childhoods to impress their friends at college.
Your bases are covered at home. How about at work?