Monday, June 11, 2012

Preparing our families is one of our duties as Guardsmen


By Maj. John Alderman,
State Public Affairs Officer, Georgia National Guard
June 11, 2012

Would you be prepared if gravity suddenly reversed itself?

I know being prepared for emergencies is part of being a good Guardsman, but every time I approach the topic of getting my family ready for emergencies, it seems like I eventually get into such a series of what-ifs that it becomes harder to visualize exactly what I should be doing to prepare. What checklist do I use? What emergencies should we prepare for first? How do we keep spare change from falling out of our pockets if gravity really does reverse?

Paralysis by analysis? Maybe. But whatever the reason, I’ve set out to do better by attacking this elephant one bite at a time.

I’ve considered where we are as a family, and what we should do immediately to meet basic readiness guidelines – and what we can do continuously to improve that readiness over time. So we’re going to follow this plan: assemble basic emergency supplies, confirm some basic emergency plans, and set our family’s proper attitude toward preparedness.

Equipment
GEMA’s Ready Georgia site proves a good basic resource for recommended equipment and supplies. Their standard checklist will get you started, and pages provide basics on planning for emergencies. (They also have a nice app that adds functionality like finding shelters.)

Unfortunately, their checklist, like so many I’ve seen, is vague and does not cater to peoples’ personal needs. To help with this, GEMA shares what members of their organization keep in their personal emergency kits. You can also visit the FEMA site, which adds useful details like types of food to store, and how and when to purify water. Once the GEMA site gets you started, the FEMA site’s details help significantly.

I also learned a home method for distilling water that I’d never heard of.

While this is a great start to building an emergency kit, I’m concerned with how to transport all this stuff because we have five kids and, well, one day of supply turns out to be a lot. So we added to the list a backpack for each; the younger kids get book bags, which keep them from packing too much to carry. I also stopped by the BX to pick up a few light duty (and therefore cheaper) duffle bags to help transport group supplies.

Plans

With some basic supplies gathered, we knew we needed to make some plans as well. The FEMA site includes a great family emergency plan to prompt you for all sorts of things – from rally points, to medicines, to SSNs, to usual hangouts – to put all on one form and keep with your kit. Perhaps not surprisingly, these government forms tend not to mention plans for family firearms, but clearly one should have a plan for that as well.

All of these plans, and all of this equipment, must take into account that I am a Guardsman and almost certainly will not be available in case of emergencies. That means I won’t be there to carry heavy over-packed bags, and will need a way to know the family’s plans if they evacuate. Understanding that basic fact and allowing it to permeate our plans is the most important thing about our third point: changing our attitude.

Attitude

We’re a relatively active family and pretty well disciplined. But we know that an emergency will stress both our attitudes and our bodies. So we’ve started camping more as a family. We continue to hike, and expect our children (everyone three and over) to carry his or her own weight.

We’re practicing simple stuff, too. Like what to do in case of a fire, where to go if there’s a tornado; where to assemble if a tornado damages several homes in the neighborhood, that sort of thing.

It doesn’t even need to be obvious or stressful the first time. While getting ready for a camping trip recently, we gave the kids simple marching orders: “Your backpacks are in the living room. Get your clothes from your rooms, add one water bottle and two granola bars each, zip everything up, and be back in 20 minutes. Big kids help your little brothers. Get back in line here so we can check you before you get into the van.”

And it worked. We figured assigning roles (filling water bottles; taking light loads to the van) comes next. Like anything else, I think systems and drills are the secret, so we’ll practice accordingly.

So that’s how the Alderman family has tried to be more deliberately prepared for emergencies by working on basic equipment, plans, and attitudes. We expect that house-specific checklists are next, as well as methods to keep food stocks rotated, and new tools to help. We’ll share more in the next installment as we continue to refine our plans.

The bottom line is that we as Guardsmen have to prepare our families for the zombie apocalypse. Or whatever. Because I know that if I am grabbing my own ready kit to report for duty, but at the same time I’m worried about my family’s safety and readiness, it will feel as bad as the zombie apocalypse.

So it’s my duty to prepare now. 

1 comment:

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