Reply to "Family Emergency Planning"

Dave, you make some excellent points.

The binder is a tool that I also use because it keeps everything consolidated. I learned to love checklists in the Army. They make it easy to do things when you are tired, cold, in a hurry, unfamiliar with a task, in the dark, whatever, or pack things without forgetting something.

Suitcases are a great idea for kits. They can hold a bunch of stuff and are relatively easy to move (yes, yes, I know, depending on the situation; you don't want to drag a rolling suitcase across the desert if you have to evac on foot; everything is METT-TC dependent). I have most of my kit in a giant Pelican case. But it is broken down into smaller bags inside because it will be awkward for my wife to muscle into the minivan if she has to execute the load plan by herself. I made her rehearse it, too. I irritate her sometimes. Also, the smaller bags make it easy to grab specifics without rooting through a big box of stuff. Load the big box but grab the tool, medical, hygiene, light bags as needed.

A buddy plan is great, too, if you have reliable partners. We were very close with one set of neighbors and the family of an Army buddy of mine who lived nearby. We also included my elderly in-laws who lived near us part of the year. Having supplies divided between locations minimizes the risk of losing everything in the event one house, or even multiple, is impacted. The advantages of a neighborhood or community plan that can't be overstated. Picture two contrasting images of post-Hurricane Sandy. Where would you like to be, Staten Island, where the borough president threw a tantrum because he didn't think the Red Cross provided dry ice and food were sufficient within hours of the storm's end, or in South Jersey where groups of residents were using chainsaws to remove trees while others were cooking a barbeque meal in a park, and older children were keeping the young kids busy on the playground? If we find ourselves in the middle of a major natural disaster, we will all likely need some form of assistance. Planning doesn't eliminate risk or the need for assistance, but adequate planning can help mitigate our risk and minimize the impact the disaster has on us. Response and recovery assets will come. It may take hours to days. Every hour you have to stand in line for a bottle of water, MRE and blanket is an hour you are not spending doing recovery ops. Three to seven days is a decent planning window (I lean towards seven or more).

A commo plan is indispensable. Have redundant means of communication. Our plan includes notes, text and cell phone calls, messaging aps, e-mails, and FRS radios. I know I have shortcomings in my plan. Except for notes, which are extremely limited in usefulness, everything requires power. I do have multiple power sources but if cell communications or power are out, my communications are degraded. I don't have long range radio or sat phone. I'll be honest, I'm not going to get them, either. I'm looking hard at goTenna to bridge that capabilities gap (if anyone has input please let me know). If your situation is similar, make sure your reunification and what-to-do-if-you-can't-make-contact plans are solid.

I guess I should have put this at the beginning of my first post. A good hazard and risk assessment is the basis for a solid emergency management plan. Make an assessment of the potential hazards, focusing on the most likely. I live in a very seismically active state, with a large tourism industry, in an area that is prone to minor, localized flooding, with a major freeway and major natural gas line nearby. Therefore, my plan must address earthquakes, terrorism (not in my neighborhood, but it impacts my wife's and my jobs), industrial or transportation accidents, and routes in and out of the city that may be compromised, among other things.

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"One of the nice things about being around other soldiers is they will suffer your bullshit gladly, knowing sooner or later you will shut up and listen to theirs." - Jim Morris, War Story

 

"The military was strange like that. In the middle of the night you run into a major problem that requires you to put your faith in someone you never met before and probably would never see again. But that person knocks himself out to do his job and helps you get on with yours." - Harold W. Coyle, Team Yankee

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