Imagine being given a guided tour of an unfamiliar building by a robot. Pretty darned neat, right? The robot escorts you from room to room. This all part of an experiment to learn more about robots. The only problem is, the robot is a wee bit unreliable. It gets lost. It leads you to the wrong room multiple times. It’s fairly confusing, but it’s for research, so why not.
And then the fire alarms go off.
Once again, the robot takes charge, illuminating its LED lights to show the words “Emergency Robot Guide.” Considering its track record…do you follow the less-than-reliable robot?
In this study, 100% of participants followed the robot, putting their trust into a machine (albeit secretly controlled by one of the researchers) that they knew wasn’t entirely trustworthy in simple matters, such as going from room to room. How would the robot do leading them out?
While this study was to test the 24 participants on their level of trust in the robot, there’s a lesson here regarding emergency preparedness and our own preparations.
In case of an emergency, would you be content to rely on following someone that is hit and miss in their emergency preparations? Or would you rather have everything you need to survive, including emergency prep, gear, and know-how?
That’s what happened in the robot scenario. Because nobody knew the layout of the building, they were forced to rely on a droid with a sub-par success rate. Personally, if I were in that situation, I would have felt a lot better if the robot had been more like R2-D2, and less like C-3PO.
In an event of an emergency, you either know what to do, or you don’t. If you don’t, you’re more likely to follow the crowd. But what if the crowd is just as clueless? If you do know what to do, then you’ll be much more prepared to take care of yourself and your family, as well as help those who aren’t as savvy as you are.
So, what do you need to do to take charge of a situation, rather than relying on an uncertain leader?
The first step is to plan. Know the disasters – both natural and man-made – that are prominent in your area. What will you do if the tornado sirens sound, an earthquake strikes, or it rains so hard it floods your neighborhood? Each scenario will require many similar tools, gear, and other emergency prep, but there will also be specific differences for each, too.
The second step is to go out start putting your plan in motion. If you decided you need an emergency kit (or two or three), then make sure you have a date by which you should have those. The same applies to emergency food, shelter, and anything else you need. For floods, be sure to get insurance well in advance of flood season, since it takes 30 days for your insurance policy to become active.
Third, practice. Once you have your gear and prep, take it for a spin. Learn how to prepare freeze-dried meals by cooking some up for dinner in your flameless cooker, simulating cooking without access to power. Go camping to see how well your tent works for your family, and how well you can start a fire in the wilderness. Having emergency gear is a necessary step, but knowing how to use it properly will get you even further.
Lastly, stay up to date on your emergency preparations. If you already have emergency food storage or emergency kits, make sure the food isn’t too old. Rotate your storage, and update the food and other supplies in your kits. Continue to get the things you need once you have the bare necessities. Having more than the minimum can help you live more comfortably in an emergency, and can help prolong the time before a disaster becomes a real emergency.
While you may not be able to stop a disaster from happening, your preparations can definitely help make things more comfortable during the aftermath.