Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Proper Preparedness Pays Off

Today is January 7, 2014 and it's 0° on our back porch. Our phone Internet and cable TV are out, which is not a really bad thin, since it gives one other (more important) things to do.

This was the second in what has been a small series of events to test our preparednessss. It's the first event that I would like to address.

Last night we had company (our oldest daughter's boyfriend). With no warning, our power went off. Immediately, the kids sprang into action. With the whole house in darkness, someone grabbed an emergency flashlight that was illuminating the kids hallway. After making sure that everyone was OK and accounted for, I went to grab the flashlight in my hallway as our youngest boy was on his way to get our "Lights Out Kit". Our oldest daughter took her little sister (who was scared) to be with my wife in our room.

We broke out out "Lights Out Kit", which is essentially a Wal-Mart tote, labeled and kept in a location that everyone in the family knows.

Inside the kit are flashlights, candles, batteries, matches, lighters, extension cords, light sticks, electronic camping lanterns, and several battery powered radios with AM/FM, weather and shortwave frequencies.

We then distributed flashlights to all of the people in the house and got our oil lamps from a hutch in the dining room, lit them, placed them in the living room, where there was also a fire going. We then had a quick family meeting laying down our action plan which was who was going to do what along with some safety procedures such as no one goes outside without a partner, etc. Following this, two of us went (cautiously) outside to size up the extent of the problem, which looked to be impacting our entire neighborhood.

After all that, we broke out our Family Disaster binder, which among other things has the contact information for the electric company. We called the electric company to report the outage and with noting left to do, my youngest son and I went outside to check our "light discipline" to see how much light was "leaking" from the house. This is not a big problem in this situation, but in a larger one, having the only house with some form of lighting may make one a target.

After rejoining the others in the living room, we broke out a game called Apples to Apples and played until the lights came on.

Our daughter's boyfriend was eager to help the whole time, but there was really nothing else to do. As we were going through the outage, I explained to him what we were doing, what the kit was, what our Preparedness Plan was, etc. so he would be aware and maybe be able to bring back some information and preparedness planning to his family.

Lessons learned:
  • We need more emergency flashlights (the ones that come on in a power outage) around the house. We used to have more, but they were never replaced as they died.
  • We need more lamp oil and wicks. Although we were fine and do have some spares, thoughts go though ones mind about what would happen in a much longer outage.
  • Having others witness your plan during an event is a great way to positively spread the message of preparedness.
  • When you step up to lead in an emergency, other see that you know what to do and will follow the plan.
I hope reading this helps you to think more about preparedness!

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