Preparedness is a hard word to digest. It’s long and stuffy and leaves a stale taste in your mouth. As a word, it feels just a little too ambiguous or a little too overwhelming. Preparedness, by any other name, is much more simple - it’s being ready.
Consider preparedness’ synonyms; awareness, consciousness, mindfulness, care, attentiveness, and vigilance. Or its antonyms; carelessness, inattention, negligence, distraction, and you begin to see, more than anything, preparedness is a state of mind. A willingness to acknowledge the likelihood you will need to be prepared.
So where is the rub? Why do we dread and feel overwhelmed by preparedness? Unlike preparing for emergencies, preparing for everyday things happens easily and without much thought. We prepare for the day by making sure the kids have their shoes and a lunch when they leave for school or we prepare for success by helping them study to pass a test. This type of preparation comes easily and makes the most sense to us when we do it to support the people we love.
Because we don’t know when emergencies might happen, or to what extent they might affect us, we don’t think of them in the same way. Our brains are wired for normalcy and routine. We take comfort in it and rest in the certainty we possess the skills and ability to navigate the challenges of our routine. But as soon as we begin to think about stepping away from normal, stepping away from routine, and embracing preparation for an unknown emergency we feel a certain anxiety and dread. We can all recognize this tendency in our language. We describe emergencies as “unthinkable.” We say you should, “expect the unexpected.” We call them “unforeseen'' and describe them as coming from “out of the blue” and we ask “who could have seen it coming?” In fact, emergencies are very predictable and since we can predict them - then we can plan for them and if we have a plan - then we can train and if we train - then we can succeed. We call this prediction, planning, training, and success - preparedness.
Each day in the U.S. 69 million children are in school or child care, away from their parents should disaster strike. Children are often the most vulnerable individuals in times of crisis. What can you as a parent do?
- Make sure that your emergency contact information is correct.
- Review the Standard Response Protocol. You cannot know how you should respond if you do not know how we will respond.
- Follow your school on social media and register with the Remind app.
- Make a family emergency plan. Be sure your children know
- Who and how to call for help.
- Who will pick them up.
- How to always find a safe place.
Fostering comfort with emergency preparedness begins with your children. Starting a dialogue about emergencies early in life, making education a priority, and creating an environment where preparedness is expected, not an afterthought tacked on to the latest disaster. If that uncomfortable “preparedness'' word still plagues you and you’re tempted to avoid it or put it off, I urge you to act now and do it for your children. They deserve a safe and empowered childhood. They deserve the opportunity to learn and build resilience before an emergency strikes. Whether we admit it or not, saying, “I prepared to keep you safe” is saying, “I love you, and protecting you is important to me.”