A Wake Up Call

The world is full of natural disasters (along with a few generated by humans).  Earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, volcanoes, mud slides, wild fires, floods, etc.  Yes, we have all heard the speeches on being prepared for such things.  You know, plenty of bottled water, flashlight batteries, a weather radio, some cash, important papers, a car tank full of gas, board up the windows and doors, and bring in the outdoor furniture. That all sounds pretty straight forward.  Some of us have even done some of those things.  But having gone through that drill for real recently I can tell you that there is no substitute for a real life drill.[su_spacer]
The military knows it.  They hold war games regularly.  Sort of a dry run if you will.  We even had fire drills in grade school to make sure we all knew what to do, where to go, and how to get there, not just in theory, but for real.[su_spacer]
I strongly recommend a “fire drill” for disaster preparedness or evacuation.  You know that you should take in the outdoor furniture and the grill.  But until you really perform that process you aren’t likely to notice the wall hanging, wall clock, hanging planters and a few other items that are likely to become missiles in a wind storm.  Oh yes, that nice big oak tree in the front yard that we have been meaning to have trimmed.  We all like landscaping around the house and foundation planting, but in a wild-fire that is simply fuel.[su_spacer]
Now, having moved all that stuff around turn off the water and electrical at the source for a full 24 hours.  Living without a shower, much less a hot shower is no fun.  Living in a house with no electricity is even less so.  We’ve all been without electricity at some point for a short time.  How many times did you flip a light switch assuming it would turn on a light?  How many times did you try to open/close the garage door?  How many times did you change clothes to either get warmer or cooler?[su_spacer]
Then there are those important papers to secure or take.  Right.  Just what does that include?  Let’s see.  Passport, insurance policies, extra checks and a record of all investments and bank accounts.  What about the jewelry?  Mementos?  Grandpa’s pocket watch?  Mom’s wedding rings?  That treasured high school year book?  where does it stop?  Be prepared to draw some lines and some may be uncomfortable or even painful.  A dry run will bring these to light for consideration before you have nature bearing down on you and forcing you to make decisions under pressure.[su_spacer]
Thinking this may be the time to buy a backup generator?  Okay, maybe a good idea but it isn’t all that simple.  What do you need/want that generator to power?  Do you know what it takes to start the compressor on your refrigerator/freezer or the central A/C unit?  The power demand to start these is much higher than what is required to keep them running.  Then there is the question of fuel.  Gas, diesel, natural gas, or propane?  Once you decide on the size and fuel then you have to determine how much fuel it will take to run that system for 24 hours and how many days do you want to be able to exist on that system.  Remember a fuel truck may not be able to reach you for some lengthy period of time.  Note too that if you don’t run a generator at least once a month it is likely to not work when you need it.  So budget running it to keep it in shape.[su_spacer]
Now it is time to install that new electrical panel and the auto switching system.  You can’t just plug it into a household socket.  There is also the question of are all of your appliances/system compatible with a generator.  Electric start gas ranges and furnaces may get fried when you put them on a generator.[su_spacer]
The bottom line is, do a for real dry run.  Do that fire drill and write down all the things you would have forgotten or failed to do/not do.  You are more likely to remember them if you have written them down.  Plus, if you have kids, be sure they participate but avoid putting the fear of God in them in the process.[su_spacer]


Ken Vincent
Ken Vincent
KEN is a 46 year veteran hotelier and entrepreneur. Formerly owned two hotels, an advertising agency, a wholesale tour company, a POS company, a leasing company, and a hotel management company. The hotels included chain owned, franchises, and independents. They ranged in type from small luxury inns, to limited service properties, to large convention hotels and resorts. After retiring he authored a book, “So Many Hotels, So Little Time” in which he relates what life is like behind the scenes for a hotel manager. Ken operated more that 100 hotels and resorts in the US and Caribbean and formed eight companies. He is a firm believer that senior management should share their knowledge and experience with the next generation of management.

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  1. Quite right, Bharat. As they say, practice makes perfect and that certainly applies to rehearsing disaster plans.

    I guess no one wants to focus on the unpleasant, Jane. Thus, it is often avoided or put on a back burner and then one day it is too late. Parents and company officials know they should do it, but it just never works its way to the top of the to-do list.

  2. In my last job one of my projects was Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Planning. It was like pulling teeth to get anyone to buckle down and take inventory of everything they would need to sustain the business in the event of the unthinkable happening. We spent hours just defining what our communication and notifications systems requirements would be. We don’t want to admit that we aren’t prepared, but as families we need to prepare to preserve our good life that we have.