During the Cold War, school kids had frequent “bomb drills” where they learned how to, in a calm and orderly manner, slide under their desks and put their hands over their heads. How this was going to protect us from a thermo-nuclear holocaust is anyone’s guess. The point is, we ran the drill. We were prepared for the worst. Today, large companies develop comprehensive evacuation plans, appoint floor captains and conduct regular “fire drills.” The day the building is engulfed in flames, that company is set. By contrast, families are notoriously bad at planning for an emergency.
Draw up a Plan.
Experts recommend that families annually discuss emergency scenarios. What to do in a kitchen fire. What to do when you awake and the bedroom is full of smoke. What to do if you have a prowler.
Rehearse the Plan.
Have a run-through. Make sure everyone knows where the fire extinguisher is kept. Choose your weapon––ball bat, poker, crow bar. Practice the Heimlech maneuver. Sign up to learn CPR. The more you rehearse, the less people are likely to panic in a real emergency.
Learn the do’s and don’ts of calling 911.
- Dial 911 only in an emergency. If it is not an emergency, dial the specific agency you need via the 10-digit number listed under non-emergency numbers.
- If you accidentally dial 911, please stay on the line and let the dispatcher know that it was an accidental call. The 911 dispatcher is required to follow up on all 911 calls and verify the existence of an emergency. If we are unable to communicate with someone at the residence, we will dispatch police to check on the status.
- Let the call-taker ask you questions. They have been trained to ask specific questions that will help prioritize the incident and send the appropriate agencies to assist.
- The dispatcher’s questions do not delay the response.They will ask your location, your situation and other pertinent questions. For instance, they will ask specific questions relating to the medical problem a patient is having. These questions are asked in order to provide the ambulance crew and, in other cases, the appropriate responding personnel a clear concise picture as to what is occurring on the scene. This DOES NOT delay the notification of the ambulance, fire engine or patrol car. The alert of necessary personnel is being conducted while you are still on the phone.
- Listen closely to the dispatcher’s instructions. The dispatcher may assist you in performing CPR, or direct you to leave the building or take other action to protect yourself.
- Don’t hang up until the dispatcher is done. This is a two-way conversation. Never hang up until you are told to.
- Try to remain calm. Talk slowly, and in a clear and concise voice. The dispatcher may ask you to repeat yourself, or repeat back what you just said. Don’t become annoyed. This is done to verify with you that the dispatcher has the correct information.
- The dispatcher may choose to keep you on the phone until help arrives.Remember that help has been notified. Keep the dispatcher advised of any changes with the current incident.
Don’t let the emergency have the upper hand. Taking the time to plan out how best to respond in a household catastrophe and discussing with your family the ins and outs of 911 will always be time well spent.