It’s Day 19, and we’re more than half-way through National Preparedness Month, and the Let’s Get Prepared! Challenge! In Phase 1, we Assessed Our Risk. In Phase 2, we Created Our Plan. Phase 3 was about Gathering Our Preparations. So, great; you’ve to a plan and you’ve got your preparations in order. So, now what? Just sit back and wait around for that emergency or disaster?
No, of course not. Phase 4 and Phase 5 will be about what we can continue to do to be and stay ready. In Phase 4 this week, we’re going to talk about Practicing and Maintaining our readiness — not just our stuff, but a sense of readiness in our lives . We’ll talk more about concepts than steps to take (though today’s post is a bit more action-oriented). Next week, Phase 5, we’ll focus our last posts together on skills we can all learn and become better at that will help us be and stay prepared for life with an emergency or disaster.
Let’s start with how to practice and how to maintain what you’ve already put in place this month, or prior to now! I like to call this one:
“Review, Replenish, and Don’t Raid!”
REVIEW… by PRACTICING
The key to PRACTICE is going through a real run of your plan so that you can refine it and make sure everyone knows what to do, and assumptions you made when you built the plan on paper hold true.
But the challenge with practicing is it is something we know is important, but not urgent. So, we put it off, again and again. So the important piece of practicing is to SCHEDULE it, and making it happen.
What should you practice? Well, you should practice the processes and systems that you need to be sure you’re responding to events and warnings. You should discuss what you’ll do beforehand, and for some of these (like escape and evacuation and sheltering) you’ll want to time them, and discuss with everyone after what went well and what didn’t. Here are some aspects of your plan to practice:
- Communication Plan (twice a year)
- Exit out of the house in case there is a fire (once a year)
- Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors (recommended monthly)
- Review the pressure gauge on your fire extinguishers (quarterly)
- Gathering of Emergency kit and supplies under a time constraint (once a year)
- Test children’s knowledge of what to do (twice a year)
- Check flashlights and battery-operated radios (twice a year)
- Getting to a sheltered area on your property or in your home (once a year)
- Evacuation route out of neighborhood (once a year)
REPLENISH … through MAINTENANCE ROUTINES
Another ‘important but not urgent” activity is reviewing the supplies you’ve gathered for your Emergency Kit. This is another “schedule and make it happen” activity.
- Test your spare battery supply (Here’s a great video on how to do that easily!) and replace / replenish the supply you need. (once a year)
- Bottled water (twice a year)
- Review your medication and hygiene supplies for expirations (once a year)
- Look over your food — remove cans of food that have swollen, items that have passed their “good until” dates. If they haven’t come due yet but are close, consider using them in your regular menu and replacing the items in your kit (once a year)
- Replace the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors (twice a year)
- Replace your smoke alarms (these may need to be replaced every 5 years, depending on the manufacturer)
- Replace your fire extinguishers per the manufacturer’s recommendations (between 5 and 15 years, so they vary. Put purchase date on each)
- Clothes that you keep in your kit – review for fit (once a year)
FINALLY: DON’T RAID!
Set limits for yourself on “borrowing” from your emergency kit, whether it is stuff or cash, just because you’re running low in your real life. And if you have no choice, “pay your kit back” ASAP!
Put dates in your calendar for the most important practices and for reviewing your supplies. When you schedule time, allow for enough time to do the practice and to make updates to your plan if you need to.
Join in the conversation over at the Clever Girl Organizing Challenge Facebook Group to learn from and to teach others as we all take on the Let’s Get Prepared! Challenge!
Reminder: Our goal here is to take steps towards improvement. The content in these posts is designed to inspire thinking, not fear.