Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us

by Dave Robinson

Dave Robinson

Do You Know Where Your Flashlight Is?
Originally published October 26, 2013

As I write this, the first notable storm of the season is blowing in off the Pacific. A moderate amount of rain coupled with predicted wind gusts of 70 mph makes for that howling, drumming sound we have all learned to recognize as our regional storms. Reports of electrical power outages in the area have already been reported, along with some flooding caused by increased runoff.

Considering this, it’s time already to make sure you know where your flashlight is. Do you have extra batteries? Batteries are like duct tape, you can never have too many. Is your cordless drill charged up so you can screw plywood across that broken window (for your neighbor, of course)? And naturally you have a box of screws for just that purpose.

My wife and I are privileged to have our two grandsons live with us. For those of us who have children in the house, there are some simple things you can do to set their minds at ease in case the electricity goes out, or worse. Storms are naturally scary for kids because of all the racket outside. Then when a tree goes down across a power line amidst all that noise, suddenly the house goes dark, the TV dies and the playstation quits at the worst possible time. The sudden darkness can be upsetting to kids and if you’re prepared with emergency lighting and other readiness items, you can go a long ways toward making this a “camping in” experience rather than one that causes needless drama.

You could even gather the kids around the table some evening and talk to them about disaster preparedness and how important it is to know where things are. Then turn off the lights and tell them “we’re having a drill.” See who can find a flashlight first. You could possibly assign other tasks such as selecting someone to stay with the baby, or have them pair up as in the Boy Scout days of using the buddy-system. Only one rule, no turning on any lights.

We tried this at my house recently. My adult daughter and two grandsons participated. The 14 year old grandson found a flashlight within 60 seconds. One thing I hadn’t counted on was handheld mobile devices provide a sufficient amount to find your way in the dark. Also the outside yard light provided some light with which to find our way about.

When your electricity fails, be sure to reassure the kids there really is nothing to worry about. Talk to them about what may have caused the outage, and that there are crews out in the storm right this minute working to restore service. In most cases the lights come back on in a few hours and life returns to normal.

Children learn to take their cues from the adults in their lives. If the grownups are panicked, then children will likewise be undone. But when your attitude is, “I’ve got this,” then the kids are comforted in the understanding their parents really do have the situation under control. When you have made some simple preparations and are ready to handle the unexpected, it wllxs serve well to bring stability and avoid all the drama associated with fears. Be sure to ask the kids if they’re afraid, and what are they afraid of? Reassure them you are there with them and nothing bad is going to happen. Tell them you have plenty of food and supplies and remind them they are warm and dry and because you are a wise and caring parent you have already prepared for just such an emergency. No worries!

As always send your questions, comments and suggestions to disasterprep.dave@gmail.com.

Note: Dave Robinson is Bandon's Postmaster and has worked for the postal service for 30 years. He has a background in law enforcement, served in the Air Force in Vietnam, worked nine years for the Coos County Sheriff's Department, and serves on the Myrtle Point School Board, where he lives.

additional columns by Dave Robinson