The recent flood in Houston, Texas has many stories of loss and destruction. But there is another side to the story that many people don’t think about. It’s the lesson of learning.
For the Sillitoe family, this lesson came at the expense of their home and many of their belongings. Two feet of water rushed into their home during the night. Roy Sillitoe and his wife Rebecca did what they could. At first, they tried to stop the water from entering their home by shoving towels under the base of doors and they used buckets to fill the bathtub. But when the water kept coming in quickly, they started moving what they could to higher locations. Roy wasn’t sure what exactly it was he and his family needed to do. They managed to save some of their children’s toys, but other keepsakes were ruined.
Despite their loss, Roy feels that his family will be fine. In fact, he believes that being a part of all this was good for his kids. He said that “they can see how we respond to it and stay positive.” Among other things, Roy feels that this disaster has been an effective learning tool for his children. “It’ll happen to them in their lifetime, sometime they’ll have to suffer something tough. So this is good.”
Teaching about and preparing our kids for disasters can really give them a leg up in the future. Roy’s family had to go through a major disaster before the learning experience came. Although it’s good to learn from these disasters, it is likewise important to learn before these disasters happen. That’s why we’re encouraging everyone to take some time this month to practice your prep.
By practicing for disasters, you’re accepting the fact that a disaster can affect you, but you’re also proving to yourself that when it does come, you’ll be ready. There’s no need to wait until the disaster arrives before you start evaluating your emergency plans.
The time has come to stop ignoring the possibility of being effected by a disaster. Live Science wrote an article on why people don’t learn from disasters. In that article Gene Whitney of the Committee on Increasing National Resilience to Hazards and Disasters (say that ten times fast) said that “despite repeated disasters, the public continues to turn a blind eye to the risks.”
Why do we keep doing that? There have been countless times in which we have seen disaster after disaster wreaking havoc on cities, communities, families, and individuals. We see it happen, but for some reason we don’t think it will happen to us. That’s where we need to start changing our mindset.
Roy Stillitoe’s mindset following the flood was that of education. He found his experience an unpleasant one to be certain, but he also saw the benefit for his children. They could learn from that disaster. Although it took a flood, he hopes his children will remember their experience in the future so they will be better prepared for other disasters that will inevitably come knocking (or just barge right in).
That is something most people don’t generally do. A survey done by Robert Meyer (in the same article by Live Science), a professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania, said that “we [ie. people] underattend to the future, we too quickly forget the past and we too readily follow the lead of people who are no less myopic than we are.”
Why don’t we plan ahead for disaster? We attend to the future in other ways, such as going to college to get a good job, move from a one-bedroom apartment to a three bedroom house to have more room for your growing family, and even have life insurance, because we want our loved ones to be provided for, just in case. So why don’t we look ahead for disasters?
Meyer believes that we need to change our behavior. He feels that society needs to makes safety a norm, beginning with education in the school system. But since it isn’t necessarily being taught in the school system, we can start by teaching it in our home. And again, one way to do that is to practice, practice, practice!
Roy Stillitoe and his family learned some valuable lessons in disaster planning because a flood came through their home. I hope we can all take that one step (or more) further and learn those lessons before disasters come. Go out and not only learn what you should do during specific disasters, but actually pretend that the disaster is actually happening. Practice living in a tent for a day or two. Practice eating only your freeze-dried food (hey, at least you’ll still have good meals). Practice using your emergency gear in any way you can think of. Knowing what to do is only half the battle. Now you’ve just got to put what you know into practice.
In what ways have you practiced using your prep? Let us know in comments!