September always draws attention to the importance of individual and community disaster preparedness in recognition of National Preparedness Month. With that in mind, over the next couple of days consider carving out time to participate in a personal wildland fire preparedness experiment. The planning exercise I’m talking about will demonstrate a specific component of your family’s overall preparedness level, and I’m going to venture to say if your household is similar to most, the individual responses may come as a complete surprise.
Pick a day this week and as part of a mealtime conversation ask household members (include everyone school age and older) where they’d go to reconnect as a group if you were each in a different locale (work, school, at a friend’s house, the mall, etc.) when a wildfire started in your community and nobody could return home due to an evacuation order. Complicate the conversation a little more and incorporate into the scenario a component where there’s no cell phone service because reception towers have been impacted and phones have been rendered inoperable. Ask each person how they would reconnect - where would they go, who would they contact to let everyone know they’re safe? If your household is truly prepared for a wildfire everyone should know how to answer the question and will also be able to provide everyone else’s responses without hesitation.
I very much believe most individuals will provide a fairly good response, but that response may not be the answer other household members expect. Most of us assume we know the actions our family/household members will choose, but that’s typically only the case when a specific and focused conversation has occurred and there’s a family communication plan that everyone talks about on a recurring basis.
September’s National Preparedness Month has weekly themes encouraging specific actions – and this week the emphasis is having a plan on how to reconnect with family members after a disaster. Commit to taking time this week to ensure your communication plan is in place and ready to implement!