Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Condition: Ready: Families

By Dave Dargo

You're watching T.V. with your family and the smoke detector sounds its alarm.  What do you do?

If you're like most families you all look at each other, dad and mom get disgusted looks on their faces and, if you're lucky, the search begins for which smoke detector is causing the issue.

Is that the right response?

When we send our children to school we like to feel safe that we've sent them someplace safe.  When it comes to fire we've done a great job in making sure that's the case; but it's not always been that way.

In the last century we had major disasters in schools in this country related to fire:
  • 1908 - 175 killed in Lakeview Grammar School fire in Collinwood, OH
  • 1915 - 22 killled in St. John's Parochial School fire in Peabody, MA
  • 1923 - 77 killed in Cleveland School fire in Beulah, SC
  • 1937 - 294 killed in Consolidated school gas explosion in New London, TX
  • 1954 - 15 killed in Cleveland Hill School fire in Cheektowaga, NY
  • 1958 - 95 killed in Our Lady of the Angels school fire in Chicago, IL
  • 1978 - 15 killed in State School for mentally retarded in Ellisville, MS
Thankfully, we haven't had any lately and except for the anomaly in 1978 we haven't had any major disasters in over fifty years.  Why is that?

It's because we started to take seriously the responsibility of safeguarding our schools from fire.  We started building schools with materials designed to inhibit fire.  We outfitted our schools with sprinkler systems and fire extinguishers and we taught our children what to do in case of fire starting at a very early age.  Today it must seem strange to young parents that we still practice fire drills in school given how long ago that it was an issue in this country.  There's nothing strange about it at all.  Our schools hold regular fire drills so that everyone in the building knows exactly what to do if that fire alarm ever sounds because of a real fire.  A proper fire drill is followed up with briefings on what went right, want went wrong and how to improve performance for the next drill or real alarm.

We were told growing up that we should practice those same types of drills at home.  We should always teach our children what to do in case of fire.  I remember my father drilling into our heads where we were to go if the house caught fire and we were severely admonished to not go back into the house no matter what.  Though highly recommended, the home fire drill is rarely practiced but you may have still had the discussion with your children and spouse on the expected behavior of everyone in case of a fire in the home.  One of the most important aspects of the plan is that everyone meet in an agreed upon place for a nose count so that the safety of all can be assured.

When that smoke detector alarm sounds it's probably better to have a plan on what is expected from each person rather than practicing the quizzical looks you are more likely to generate.

Now, let's change the scenario just a bit.  You're watching T.V. with your family and you hear someone break a window or kick a door in.  What do you do?

That particular moment is not the proper time to make a plan.  Just as with a fire you should have a plan for your family on what you will collectively do if you were faced with such a scenario.

In our Personal Protection In The Home course we teach that you should get to a pre-designated safe room, lock and, if possible, barricade the door, call 911, get behind good cover, get your gun if you have one and wait for help to arrive.

Just as our children calmly execute the fire drill exercises in their schools we are better prepared to handle a crisis if we have a thought-out and practiced plan before a crisis strikes.

No comments:

Post a Comment