How Likely Does An Emergency Have To Be For You To Prepare For It?
By Jennifer Cox
Photo © leinbaylon/Twenty20
Nov 8, 2021
No one wants to think something will happen to them.
But emergencies come up. All the time.
While I can’t plan for every outcome, I do my best to have the somewhat scary but important conversations around safety with my family, and I certainly aim to be equipped with emergency supplies for when I might need them.
Frankly, I’m just doing my best to plan ahead.
Stranger Danger and Public Awareness
When my son was around three years old, my husband and I took him to KidCon – you know, one of those big exhibitor shows with different company setups and games and food stalls and about a zillion people?
As we each clutched our son’s hands, I felt a slight pang of worry and so did my husband.
So we pulled our little guy aside for a quick pep talk:
“There are a lot of people here and someone could get lost. Let’s always hold mine or Daddy’s hand. And if we do get separated, where is a good place to meet? Remember that if someone talks to you: what’s our safe word? And what’s Mommy’s phone number again?”
I don’t want to put fear in my child — but I do want him to be aware.
I want him to be aware of his surroundings, aware of any risks and aware of what to do if something goes awry.
That means arming him with a safe word we’ve already chosen and discussed, my cell phone number (that I’d turned into a song for weeks to really get it in his little head) and a meeting spot we could all regroup at should we get separated. These things seemed to help him stay calm, should he ever get lost.
But not every day is a big convention.
Some days are spent at home.
According to the Canadian Red Cross, home fires are one of the most common emergencies. In a matter of minutes, a fire in the home can become life-threatening, and it’s critical to act quickly, which is why I think it’s so important to be prepared and informed.
We have a split-level home — in it there’s me, my husband, our eight-year-old son and our big pup on the main floor, and my mother-in-law lives in our basement.
We recently had a fire drill, just like kids have regularly in school. We went through a few different scenarios of what we would do depending on where the fire happened.
I wish we had started this sooner, but we only did it for the first time this year. But now that we’ve done it, we plan to make it a regular exercise.
My family also does fire safety checks on our smoke alarms, which we clean and maintain, as well as the fire extinguishers we have throughout the house.
I find making it a family activity keeps everyone involved and informed about safety at home, which has so many benefits.
Most families have probably faced a power outage.
It can be caused by weather, or any number of technical reasons, but in my experience so far they have really only lasted a few hours and posed not big security threat.
But not all blackouts are the same.
Can you handle several days without power, if lines are down and can’t be restored right away?
For some, especially during the winter, it can be a real hardship.
Keeping this in mind, I’ve created an emergency preparedness kit, which includes necessities like batteries, non-perishable food, battery-operated radio, a fully stocked first-aid kit, candles, water, medicine (and if you have an infant, baby needs are important too, like formula), copies of important family documents, additional cell phone chargers (external battery packs could be useful without a power supply), dog and cat food, and personal hygiene items.
The goal is to feel at ease, should the worst blackout scenario happen.
It would be especially important to be kitted in this manner if you live somewhere more remote, where tornados, floods or other large weather phenomena are more common. Whatever is being prepared for, my advice is to have everyone involved so everyone’s needs are met to the best of your ability.
The world is changing, and weather can be erratic and unpredictable, so I like to think about ensuring safety in our vehicles as well.
Nothing is worse than being stranded in a broken-down car on the side of the road in winter and not having the right tools to stay warm and comfortable until help arrives.
So I have an emergency kit for these situations, too.
In it, are essential provisions like water, non-perishable food, a blanket, a battery-operated flashlight with extra batteries, road flares, windshield washer fluid, jumper cables, an extra battery pack, a shovel, an ice scraper, de-icer and a phone charger (again, a charged external battery could be useful, too).
It’s also a good idea to have sand, salt or kitty litter on hand to help with ice or slippery surfaces. This will provide the traction you need to get out of a slippery spot.
I Like To Be Prepared
While the risk of any of these things happening is low, there is always a chance.
It’s up to every family to decide how much they want to prepare, of course, but I do think taking a little bit of time to get ready for unlikely situations only provides comfort should they ever arise.
By taking these steps, I know I feel better prepared for a crisis.
And my kid also gets to see the benefits of a small effort to stay safe by being invited into the process. And from there we can talk about how unlikely it is that we will require any of this intervention, but it’s important to discuss and plan so that we are ready anyway.
It gives us peace of mind and confidence in the face of adversity.
And what family couldn’t benefit from that?
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