Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Disaster Preparedness

"Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?"

We watched Bad Boys with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence on Saturday night, and the theme song has been stuck in my head ever since. Especially the "Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?" part.

Growing up in small-town Michigan, we had tornado drills at school. We'd file into the hallway with our heaviest book, then crouch along the walls, heads tucked against our chests, and hold the book over the back of our necks. Despite our readiness, a tornado never hit. I only remember going into our basement of our house once, and I think that was more to humor me than to escape impending doom.

When I worked at the Jewish Community Center in Chicago, we had fire drills and bomb drills. Both worked about the same, but there's something about the possibility of an EXPLOSIVE DEVICE in the building where you spent 8-10 hours a day that was more than a little unsettling. At least the firemen were cute.

(Side note: My boss and I shared an office on the second floor and discovered what looked like a small bullet hole in one of the windows. That was scary.)

Mexico has brought a new set of dangers. (Understatement of the year.) The most obvious is earthquakes, and I experienced my very first temblor within a month of moving here. Since then I've grown accustomed to the strange vibrations that rattle the building, and the only real adjustment I've made is I try to make sure I have outdoor-appropriate clothing on my nightstand when I got to bed. I doubt I'll have much time to get dressed, but I'd hate to think I'd be stuck outside in my skivvies.

Then there's the danger that I never in my life thought I'd have to plan for: gunmen. Now, before everyone freaks out, so far we've been lucky and any threats have been mostly in our heads, but given the level of violence in our neck of the woods, it'd be stupid not to have a plan.

We have a metal security door that is locked at all times, and my computer (and therefore where I sit most of the day) is off to the side. When the main door is open, it shields me from the open doorway. 98% of the time I hear anyone who comes up the stairs, and even if I don't and they catch me off guard, I never stand up and go to the door -- I just peek around the edge of the door enough to see who it is. If anyone were to show up with a gun, my plan is to move further inside the house and press myself up against the concrete wall. Because of the way everything is positioned, it'd be tricky to get a shot at me if I were standing there.

This may sound a bit dramatic, but when people are getting kidnapped at a rate of one per week, I think it'd be stupid NOT to have some sort of plan.

So, do you and your family have an emergency plan? If not, why?


Janna Qualman said...

We've talked a plan or two over with our oldest, but need to get grander plans in order.

Thinking safe thoughts for you always.

Jenna said...

One word...Heath.

Or in other words...we have a battle/emergency plan(s).

Melanie Avila said...

Janna, it feels surreal making plans like that, but they say it makes an actual emergency so much easier to deal with. (and thanks)

Jenna, I imagine Heath is an excellent emergency plan. :)

JLC said...

I think you could almost relate with the book I just read. It was about living in Sarajevo during the war. The citizens inside the city were dodging sniper bullets on their way to get some water or food for their family.

mary h said...

I found a typo, I found a typo! :) I couldn't figure out what "gummen" was until I read the next line. Thought it was some type of infection or weird critter!
I don't mean to make fun, but couldn't helping mentioning it. :)

You are better prepared then Jody and I. Here in Seattle our biggest risk of danger would be wind storm with trees falling on the house (we don't have very many around us though), earthquake and flooding although we are on a hill with sandy soil so flooding is probably not likely.

We did lose our power a couple of years ago with a huge windstorm and had no power for five days! This was mid December so it was quite cold at the time. Fortunately, we have a wood-stove in our small house so by keeping it stoked 24/7 (or 24/5 in this case) we kept warm. I even learned to cook on it and make coffee in our camping percolator. We have a gas hot water heater, so could shower by lantern light and wash dishes. In addition we used our gas BBQ with the side burner for cooking. We did pretty well although boredom set in since it was dark at about 4pm and you can only read for so long. We even kept an old Princess phone so we could plug it in since cordless phones weren't working and cell service was spotty. I was amazed at how many people hadn't thought of this! We finally broke down on Day 4 and went out to dinner downtown. Lights, heat, TV....glorious! It was an inconvenience, for sure, but I felt blessed to have our home all in one piece as many thousands of homes had tree damage. They called it a 100 year storm.

I have a lot of food in our larder but probably not all the water we should have in case of emergency. My plan would be to fill the tub with fresh water if a big emergency ever happened. We have flashlights with batteries where we can find them and a battery operated radio. In case of fire, my plan is to scoop up my pets and head for the door. Hopefully I would remember to put some clothes on! I also hope I never have to find out!

Wow, that was lengthy.

LurkerMonkey said...

Wow ... zat's crazy, girl.

A few years ago, we got hit by three hurricanes in one year, including one major one. So our house is stuffed with emergency supplies in case we're on our own for a few weeks.

In case of home invasion, my plan involves flapping my arms and yelling to make myself appear as large and threatening as possible and hope they back away.

LurkerMonkey said...

p.s. I should mention, that's my plan if our home is invaded by BEARS.

LurkerMonkey said...

p.p.s, and one last thought: DING!

p.p.p.s, that's the sound of your computer alerting you that I'm basically spamming your blog this morning.

Melanie Avila said...

OMG Lurker you're killing me!! I totally needed that laugh today. :)

Melanie Avila said...

JLC, I don't think we're quite that bad, but I don't flinch when our neighbors fire off a round, so maybe it's more similar than I realize.

Mary, pfft! :P I'll have to fix that. It's amazing how it often takes a disaster (or five days without power) to realize how unprepared we are. I always kept a regular phone for that exact reason. It sounds like you're ready for some serious camping now.

And Lurker, again, THREE hurricanes? Wow! And can I just go on imagining you flapping your arms at an intruder?

Ed Pahule said...

Yes, we have a plan of sorts. In case of fire, we all run outside and meet by the front tree. Someone is designated to grab one dog, someone the other. The ferret is in the basement and unfortunately, it will have to fend for itself.

As a child, we used to do those disaster emergencies, sit in the school's basement, and kiss your butt goodbye drills, but I thought they were for nuclear attack, not tornadoes. Maybe I just had an overactive imagination.

Melanie Avila said...

Ed, um, not to bring up age, but it's possible -- since we went to school in different decades -- that you WERE readying for nuclear attack. Just sayin'.

Poor ferret.

Nadine said...

We've prepped for hurricanes here - the hubby loves to get all prepared just in case (he thrives on that stuff), and fortunately our house is out of the tsunami range.

As for house attacks, Kekahi the ninja kitty is on the case. In fact, just last night he caught a mouse who had been casing the joint outside... And then brought it into the house to dine on it... On the hubby's shoes in the bedroom... I may have to change his battle plan and encourage him to keep all intruders outside... :)

Natasha Fondren said...

I sleep with a canned whistle under my pillow, one of those aerosol things made for boating emergencies that will blare for miles. I also have my numchuks right next to my bed. I also have the door tied shut with a leash attached to a bench.

So in the two minutes it will take someone to enter, I'll have the whistle blowing and two numchuks at the ready. I think I'll be fine. :-)

Now if someone wants to shoot me, I'm pretty screwed. I'm pretty sure bullets will penetrate aluminum.

ElanaJ said...

Scary! And yes, we have a plan. Everyone should have a plan for every emergency, no matter where they live. But that might just be the teacher in me coming out.

Robin said...

When I was little, we used to do drills for Tyranasaurus Rex attacks. One of us would be the designated "distraction" while the rest disappeared into the foliage. I was always assigned to be the distraction. I wonder why?

Melanie Avila said...

Nadine, that must be a guy thing -- since they look at it as an adventure... That's hilarious about the cat. Yes, eating his victims OUTDOORS would seem like a better plan of attack.

Natasha, wow. Numchucks AND the horn thing? I said a couple days ago that we need to get one of those air horns to blast when our neighbors are being obnoxious, like laying on the car horn for five minutes straight. But I think you might be right about the bullets v aluminum.

Elana, as a teacher I'd think it'd be almost impossible for you to NOT have a plan. Hopefully other people are inspired by you.

OMG Robin, I LOVE every one of your comments. We just watched the first Lord of the Rings the other day so now I'm imagining you as a hobbit distracting the orcs/T Rex. Nice. :)