Practice is the key to anything you want to do well.
I’ve written about some of the lesser known or acknowledged aspects of preparedness over the last few months. Hopefully, it’s opened your eyes to a new understanding of what a prepared home looks like.
Preparedness is a lifestyle in itself that requires awareness and vigilance. It’s certainly something we have to choose to do on a regular basis. Practice is really the key to anything you want to do well. Piano, baseball, reading and writing. The newer the skill the more frequent the practice needs to be. The same goes for preparedness.
My husband’s old baseball coach used to say “Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.” How you practice makes all the difference. Pay attention to the details and how you practice. These are the keys to a successful drill.
Look at how practices run in sports or with instruments. First, they teach the concept, then they demonstrate it, then the student tried it. The teacher then helps them fine tune their technique and gives other tips. Communication is two way. Would you say most fire drills follow this pattern? NO!
How to Have an Effective Drill
1) Review what to do at the beginning of the month and warn your family this month we will have an earthquake drill (other chosen disaster).
2) Always make them spontaneous! Let’s face it, disasters are certainly not planned and scheduled.
3) Vary when you have the drill. Don’t be afraid to be the lame parent who pulls a fire drill in the middle of the night. Disasters happen at all hours of the day and night.
4) Be realistic! After you’ve had a few drills, (when they’re complacent about them) begin to replicate the real situation – turn off the lights, make some noises, whatever you need to simulate the real thing.
Related Post: 25 Resources for Teaching Kids About Disasters
Obviously, you’re not going to be able to shake your house but you can shake the table they’re under. Take it a few at a time. Acclimate them slowly to the disaster. This is particularly important for kids with special needs. We don’t want them to be surprised by anything and not know what to do.
5) After the drill review how you did, and any changes that may need to be made to your plan. Talk about how they felt and what their concerns are. Now is a great time for a little family Q & A.
What to Practice
Don’t just drill for fires, have an earthquake, tornado, and evacuation drill. Helping kids to be aware of the possible disasters they could face is extremely important. Hopefully, you included your kids in doing research to find what the potential disasters are for your area. Simply having them help with any preparation is a vital way to prepare your kids.
Do monthly drills and spontaneous safety spot checks. There are two options for earthquake safety – the triangle of life and the drop and cover method. I would encourage both as the drop and cover may not always be accessible. Make it a race, or game. Associate it with something pleasant not dreadful.
There are many ways to practice emergency preparedness with your children besides the usual drills, these include:
- Disaster weekend
- Pioneer Week
- Camping and backpacking
- Games and Family Home Evening
- Good Habits
- Taking classes together
- Going to preparedness events in your community like expos and fairs
- Having a neighborhood meeting like Map your Neighborhood
What do these have to do with practicing preparedness? Everything.
Each one prepares your family for a disaster, life after a disaster, and develops the skills needed to survive both. The goal with practicing isn’t to just remember what to do, but to be able to do so on reflex with little thought.
We also want them to know they have the ability to handle whatever gets thrown at them and come out on top.
Most importantly these prepare kids to understand what the disaster is, what it looks like, the effects of the disaster and how it will be after. We often focus on the temporal preparation and basic needs. All these are great, but resiliency is the greatest preparation we can give our kids.
Emotional and mental preparation is what makes the difference between survival and recovery. Our goal isn’t just to help our kids stay alive in a disaster but to have the skills and foundation to recover and heal from the disaster.
As in all things preparedness, include your kids in planning your drills and practice. Let them be in charge of some of the drills. Have them teach each other. Empowering them gives them greater confidence and allows what they have learned to sink in deeper. They will amaze you at what they know and can accomplish.