Thursday, 3 March 2016

Not Safe as Houses...

This is a bit of a follow on from my last post, The Tough Conversations. My question today is about how to prepare for possible disasters.

I have been thinking about the things that could go horribly wrong and how we would deal with potentially tough situations- like a burglary or a freak accident etc. I guess it is a parental instinct to make sure that our families are as safe as could be.

All of this came to light on Monday when I had a slightly scary experience, in which nobody was hurt, but in which things could easily have spiraled out of control. The previous night had been a completely sleep deprived night (a frequent event in this household). The whole family has a bit of a flu and I had taken some cold medication that kept me awake. When I finally fell asleep, my daughter had coughed herself awake and soon after my son also woke up and everyone only got back to sleep shortly before the alarm went off. 

The day progressed as usual and I carried on my normal tasks, in a bit of a sleepy haze (the scary part is that I have many sleep deprived nights like this, followed by zombie days thereafter). In the afternoon, I dropped my daughter off for classes and my son fell asleep on the way back. When we returned home, I put my son in his cot and put a pot of rice on the stove to cook. Now, I never nap in the daytime (I just can't seem to fall asleep in the daytime, even if I try) and I had not planned on napping on this afternoon either. However, on this day, the last thing I remember is checking messages on my phone. I accidentally dozed off and woke up some time later to the smell of smoke, lots of smoke. Now, we have a smoke alarm, but as Murphy's law would have it, the batteries were flat. I rushed to the kitchen, removed the pot, which was burnt beyond repair from the stove and controlled the slight fire. Aside from a bit of smoke inhalation and being a couple of minutes late to fetch Noodle, there was no damage but I shudder to think what could have happened.

On Tuesday, we had quite a severe thunder storm while we were putting the little ones to sleep. Now, Noodle has always been petrified of thunder and we have always reassured her that she is safe and sound inside the house. However, Tuesday's thunder storm knocked out the power. Shortly after, I saw sparks and heard a big pop coming out of the modem, just centimeters away from where my head was. While we are all deeply saddened by the temporary loss of our WIFI facilities, this served as a reminder of just how potentially dangerous the forces of nature can be. (P.S. This is also why this post has no fancy graphics- I am conserving data as I use my limited cellphone data as a hot spot for my laptop until we get a new modem). 

Anyway, while I do believe that faith in the almighty is the biggest protection of all, I have been thinking about potential plans of actions for possible emergency situations. Does your family have an action plan for scenarios like a house robbery, or a plan of exit points for if there is a fire? This is something I have been giving some thought to. Given the crime statistics in Johannesburg, most of us have a lot of security but this also has the potential of trapping us in the house in the event of an emergency. How would you circumvent this? How about a hijacking? I have been on a BMW Advanced Driving course which teaches techniques for dealing with a hijacking situation, including how to get children out of car seats at the back. If you are a driver in South Africa, I would highly recommend attending a similar course. 

Do you have an emergency contingency plan in place? Have you communicated any of this to your children? How do you do this without scaring them? I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.