The BSA has a very good Emergency Preparedness program. It encourages our Scouts and Adults alike to plan and prepare for an emergency. You can read more about it at http://www.scouting.org.
One of the important aspects of the Emergency preparedness program that I find valuable is the extension beyond the family and house. But having your Troop prepared to help the community in such an emergency. Are you prepared to cook, help in First Aid, and comfort those that are displaced by a natural disaster or emergency? Having a unit plan for this is a great idea. Work with other local agencies to provide simple services that will get your Scouts involved and ready to act when the time comes.
But Emergency Preparedness really does start at home. The company that I work for recently got on board with Emergency Prep plans in the wake of recent hurricanes, tsunamis, acts of terrorism, and the threat of a pandemic influenza.
I found that there were a few good take home drills that go beyond what we have done through Scouting. I thought I would share a few of those ideas.
First. Most Scouts and most families for that matter have multiple cell phones. Our kids have them and we communicate with them either by voice or text. Now I understand that some emergencies or disasters will knock out cell coverage or emergency agencies will occupy the bulk of cell coverage, but even inJapan, cell communication proved to be reliable and an efficient way of communicating.
So here is a drill that you and your family can do (practice) to aid in your Emergency preparedness.
Conduct a family drill in which you call all family members and let them know you will be evacuating from work.
Step 1: Input the text messages for HELP and SAFE which you can find at safeamericaprepared.org.
Step 2: Practice returning messages from each family member and memorize emergency family meeting places.
Step 3: Text a follow-up message. Set a ‘time’ when all should arrive. Explain what should be done if someone has trouble in traveling to the home/alternative rendezvous site.
Step 4: Complete the drill by having all family members text that they are ‘SAFE’ to return to their routine and review the process later at home–exploring lessons learned.
Another idea in Emergency Prep is the Shelter in Place. That is to say that you will have to stay in one place, typically your home for an extended period of time. Are you ready? Try this.
Shelter in Place
Plan a drill in which you practice how you would remain at home for an extended period of time (without power). Steps that you can consider include the following:
Step 1: Check your family pantry for an inventory of key supplies you’d need to stay at home for one week. These might include potable water, food, medical and sanitation supplies (toilet paper, etc.).
Step 2: Determine how you would cook and/or survive without power for 3-5 days. Make a plan to heat/cool your home–and stay in rooms that are the best insulated as well as best lit.
Step 3: Review procedures to shelter non-family/neighbors that may not have adequate supplies. Discuss how many you can shelter–and any special rules/regulations you might want to enforce.
Step 4: Plan a three-day simple menu to avoid cooking.
Step 5: Consider how you would dispose of waste if you could not take garbage outside your home.
Step 6: Have a communications system (battery radio) tested to make sure it works. Also check flashlights.
Step 7: Pretend that you have to sleep in one room. Have all family members ‘bed down’ and see how to make themselves comfortable.
Step 8: Complete the drill, asking for suggestions of what could make people ‘more comfortable.’ Consider what chores might need to be shared–for adults, teens and children — and explain the value of practice — just like a sport or dance production.
This drill is very much like that which you will find in the Emergency preparedness merit badge. It is a great idea not just to discuss this plan, but try it. Not for the full 3 to 5 days.. but at least an hour or two. Think about how you are going to gather water, wood, and other materials that will add to your comfort and survival. As Scouts we are prepared, we have stoves, fuel, water purification techniques, and shelter. We have the knowledge to tie knots, build simple structures that add to the protection of our shelter and of course basic First Aid. With that knowledge comes confidence that in the event of an emergency, we will be able to react and not panic.
A good plan and solid preparation is your ticket to emergency preparedness.
Have a Great Scouting Day!