Prepare your family for crisis response

As reports of the crisis in Japan continue to dominate the news, we’re reminded that mass disasters of various types can happen anywhere, anytime. Obviously, it’s critical that you and your agency candidly evaluate your level of preparedness for such an event from a professional perspective, but perhaps just as important is evaluating your family’s level of preparedness.

If a mass disaster hits, you’ll be called away for who knows how long and you’ll need to stay focused in order to perform safely and effectively. Your attention will need to be on your job, not on concerns about your family and whether they know what to do. In the event of a crisis, do you — and they — feel confident that they’re ready to self sufficiently function without your direction and involvement? Have you discussed things like evacuation plans and routes, emergency survival tactics, things to expect and avoid in a mass emergency involving public panic, things to do and not do in the event of water, power and/or communications loss, who best to call for help when you can’t be there, discussion of the roles each family member would play in the event of an emergency (for example, that the older kids will take responsibility for the younger kids while mom or dad does whatever needs to be done).

I live in earthquake country and need to be prepared for the unexpected natural disaster at any moment in time. It just so happens that twice a year — when we change the clocks for daylight savings — not only do I change the batteries in my smoke alarms, but I also tear apart and put back together again my family’s “Earthquake Kit.” I make sure the clothes set aside for my son will still fit him six months from now, and the cans of food have expiration dates more than six months out. I also review with my wife our out-of-state emergency phone numbers, our primary rally points and action plans, as well as contingencies for the safety and welfare of our son at his school.

You may live in Tornado Alley, or along the coastal areas of the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico (where hurricane season runs from June through November). Or you may live near the many thousands of miles of underground natural gas pipelines that, when they “go” they really “GO!” Wherever you are, let the disaster in Japan serve as an impetus to speak with your family about this stuff, because when a mass disaster event happens in your area, you’re almost certainly going to be serving in your role as a public safety officer, not a dad, a mom, a son, or a daughter.

You’ll rest much easier knowing that they’ll know what to do.

About the author

Doug Wyllie is Editor at Large for PoliceOne, providing police training content on a wide range of topics and trends affecting the law enforcement community. Doug is the 2014 Western Publishing Association "Maggie Award" winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column, and has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips. Doug hosts the PoliceOne Podcast, Policing Matters, and is the host for PoliceOne Video interviews. Doug is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers' Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

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