Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The new reality is everyone needs multiple emergency plans

This originally appeared on The Chicago Moms.

Remember when talking about your emergency plan meant everyone knew how to get out of the house in a fire? If you were traveling it meant having an emergency kit in your car trunk? At school you went into the hall and covered your head during the tornado drill?

In today’s world, it’s important for everyone to have numerous emergency plans. In our house we’ve been talking a lot about the different kinds of emergencies we might encounter and how we can manage them. Don’t get me wrong. We know we won’t be in control when the next crisis hits, but there is something comforting about planning that helps us all.

We have ongoing, casual conversations with our girls about how the school will keep them safe. We talk about why all the interior doors are locked all the time. We talk about why the school is replacing all the exterior windows with bullet proof glass. We talk about what they should do if there is an emergency and what we will do. We know our daughters’ school district is prepared for a crisis. The district has done a good job of communicating its plans to parents and children. Our girls have regular emergency drills encompassing everything from a tornado to an intruder.

Last week all the planning went into action when the school district went on lockdown because an armed robbery took place at a bank within a mile of two schools. At home all our phones started ringing. There were emails and Facebook updates. We knew the district was on lockdown. As parents we were confused because we didn’t know the pick-up procedure. Do we wait for a call? Go to the school at the normal time? It’s one thing to know there is a plan. It’s another thing to implement the lockdown plan. The children weren’t confused at all. Our girls described in detail what everyone had to do and how the teachers handled the situation. It was all quite fine with them, but I held back tears. Who ever thought we’d live in a world where schoolchildren describe a lockdown with the same emotion as they do a science project?

After the Boston Marathon bombing we talked about what Daddy will do if there is ever an emergency downtown. (Really at this point isn’t it when, not if?) We sat at the dinner table and decided Daddy will get on the closest train and take it out of downtown. He won’t try to get to his usual train at Union Station. We figured odds are good that trying to get to Union Station will put him in the middle of the crisis. He’ll take the first train out of town and take it as far south as he can. Wherever he is, we’ll get him back home as soon as we can.

We also have fire and tornado plans for home, but those seem so simple now. As we recently discovered, we’re more likely to use the school lockdown plan than a tornado plan. It’s a sad reality of today’s world that every family has multiple emergency plans covering so many situations. Perhaps what makes me the most sad is knowing that the eventual emergency we face won’t be one we’ve planned for yet. It will be something so heinous that when it happens we’ll say, “I just never thought….”

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