Do you know why coaches make their players run drill after drill until they’re blue in the face? Contrary to popular belief, it’s NOT because of some past transgression they had forgotten about. Instead, it’s to improve them, to make them better. So that in that moment of action, when the right decision needs to be in a very crucial instant, it will be made, and there will be success. At least, that’s what my rugby coach always said. Those running, passing, and hitting drills, over and over again, were intended to ingrain behavioral lessons into our thick skulls so when we took the field, those actions would be second nature and we wouldn’t have to think – we would just act. It worked. We won nearly all our games.
Emergency preparation is the same way. If we don’t practice our prep, how will we know if we’re ready when game day arrives? We can always think, “Well, maybe when disaster comes, it just won’t affect me.” But then again, maybe when I’m running down the field with the ball, that huge guy coming in fast toward me will miss the tackle. As many hours of running straight into people will prove, they generally do not miss their tackle.
Disasters will affect you, somehow, some way. But it’s what we do before those disasters come that is so important. Just like I did with my rugby team, we need to practice. Simply having emergency gear is a great start, but knowing how to use it…well, that’s the other half of the battle. The crucial half. So, practice using our emergency preparedness items.
Practicing our preparedness doesn’t have to be a dull, boring experience. The Go Game, produced by Jenny Gottstein, is a method of teaching emergency preparedness by, well, playing games. Gottstein has designed earthquake and tornado games for California, and in a Huffington Post article, they credit her in that “some of [her] games have even used a zombie apocalypse theme, where zombie actors chase people around while they learn practical skills, such as how to find emergency radio stations and evacuation routes and how to bandage a wound.”
Did you hear that? Zombies can teach practical survival skills! As an avid reader, I can tell you that I’ve learned a lot from books. But where I learn the most is by actually doing the thing. There’s a bunch of science behind it, including neurons in the cerebellum somehow know when an action is right or wrong, and when it’s wrong, it sends “better instructions to motor neurons the next time the same action is attempted.” That’s what Christopher Bergland of Psychology Today wrote, and is essentially “why you never forget how to ride a bike.”
Science was never my strong point, but I have learned from experience that the more I do something, the better I get and the more it sticks with me. This goes from learning to play the piano, learning a foreign language, and yes, even learning what to do during an emergency.
Have you ever wondered why we do fire drills, earthquake drills, tornado drills, and power drills? It’s because of this principle of never forgetting how to ride a bike. The more we’re prepared – and the more we practice that preparation – the more we will remember, and the more natural it will come.
I’ll be honest, if I (for some reason) need CPR, I’m going to want someone reviving me that’s practiced the technique more than just once at Boy Scout Camp. And if it’s me that’s doing the CPR on someone, I’m going to be glad I practiced a lot. Likewise, if I’m going to be stuck using my emergency cooking gear – without matches – I really hope I’ve practiced with it beforehand so I’ll know how to start the fire, and how to cook my freeze-dried food in it, too. It’s not too difficult, but whenever I’m doing something like that for the first time, I’m always hesitant and unsure and hope I’m doing it right.
And that’s another thing: confidence.
There’s just something about actually knowing what you’re doing that brings a load of confidence. And during an emergency, you’re going to want just that. People (ie. your family) will be scared, but by quickly jumping to the rescue, they can feed off your confidence and be comforted.
I hope you take some time to consider the areas in which you can practice your preparedness and then go out and do just that. It can be fun, and will definitely be beneficial when you actually have to use those skills after a disaster. Looking back on my rugby career, I am grateful for all the time my coaches drilled those drills into my thick skull, so I could not only have great winning seasons, but actually enjoy them while they happened. I hope that I – along with all of you – can be just as prepared for disasters, so that when the moment does come, we can all be ready to tackle it head on. They say that practice makes perfect, and of all the things to get right, disaster prep is certainly up on the list.
During this month, I’ll be posting other articles about different ways to practice your prep. And until then…
What have you done to practice your preparedness? Let us know in comments!