Why it is necessary to have emergency plans

Countries that faced overnight disasters are a wake-up call of danger lurking

In Summary

• Breaking news of disasters are making me yearn for evacuation drills in my family

Escape route
Escape route

The world has shown us how volatile it is. Things can change in the blink of an eye, people become displaced, wars break out and natural disasters come out of thin air. People sleep in a peaceful country one night and wake up to terror the next morning.

Just this year, we have seen several countries shattered by earthquakes, wars, flooding, military coups and raging wildfires, among other disasters. We send our thoughts and prayers, we start hashtags and ‘stand in solidarity’ with the suffering, only we do it virtually. It’s so easy to ‘feel’ for others when they are suffering because we get to do it in the comfort of our safe and secure countries.

However, it is difficult to imagine ourselves in those people’s shoes because we have never known such degrees of catastrophe. We can’t understand what it's like to have everything you know gone in a flash. Here’s the thing, nobody knows what it's like until it happens to them, and by that time, it's almost always too late.

I know there is little we can do as humans to fight back against a raging Mother Nature. But, I feel that we can start implementing emergency drills for disasters and wars within our homes, the same way we implement emergency drills at schools and work. Yes, some disasters are unavoidable, but some situations allow us room to flee. If such a time comes, we are often too flummoxed by the surprise element to think about anything.

The more we wake up to breaking news of disasters affecting specific areas, the more paranoid I become about implementing evacuation drills in my family. Sometimes my husband thinks my paranoia is too much, then I remind him of simple things such as last year's floods from simple heavy rains in the country we reside in. You see, our backyard faces a quaint little stream, but I have seen how raging that stream gets when we have overnight rains and I can only imagine how easy it would be for the banks to burst if we ever had extreme weather.

We also live in a country surrounded by politically volatile neighbours, more so we live in a country that neither of us was born into. I dread the day we wake up and we are no longer welcome. Or worse still, the day war breaks out. I know for a fact when the disaster alarm rings, I’m looking for the first flight, ship, car, heck even I will even walk my Kenyan self across the narrow sea! For that to happen, though, we need a solid evacuation plan that should the time ever come, we already know what to grab and where to go.

Many people would not want to live with the thought that something bad could happen. I agree it is a crass way to live. However, we cannot deny that there are many situations beyond our control, and having a little bit of control in the midst of chaos is the difference between saving lives and sheer panic.

I believe preparedness is what saves most people in such situations. Simple things as having a relief bag packed, cash in hand as well as a formulated plan on how to evade disasters or even agreeing to a rendezvous point is important for a family to have at the ready.

Code words or security phrases are life-saving in times of endangerment. There are many ways of protecting our families, and planning for the unknown or worst-case scenario is also a means of protecting them. And in this current global uncertainty, I feel it is a must to have emergency plans in place.

We love to watch movies of an apocalyptic nature or Armageddon as we make comments about which of the characters will die first. We never think such situations would happen to us, then you hear the stories of people who had to flee wars or disasters in the middle of the night and think, "What would I have done if I was in their situation?"

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