I think running drills is an extremely important part of being truly prepared for an emergency or disaster.
Step one before you get to the drills is to make the plan. Head over to my guide about making your emergency disaster plan to get started on that.
Even if you don’t want to write out the entire plan, at least talk it out first with the household. Give exact step by step examples and instructions for each incident. This is a great time to walk around and assess your home or car or whatever else in case you feel like you’re not ready to take on a full-fledged drill yet. Ask and answer questions, be curious and feel out the best ways that are going to work for you and your household.
I encourage you to do a drill at any point in your preparedness journey. A drill is just that, a drill. It’s to test out your plans, your preps, your gear, etc., and make sure it’s where you hope it to be in a peaceful time. This isn’t the time for everything to be perfect, it’s testing it out and see how it goes.
During the process you’ll figure out what works, what didn’t, and every hole imaginable so that when the drill is over, you can take the steps necessary to fix what needs to be fixed, and praise what went right.
Again, this isn’t the time for right or wrong, it’s simply testing things out to see how it goes and how it can be improved.
If you have kids, it’s important to try to make these drills fun. Get them involved with the whole process.
Here are 10 prepping drills you can practice:
Running a bug out drill would usually take place after you’ve created your emergency disaster plan and established where you’re going, how you’re getting there, etc. It’s a good idea to establish the plan first then do the drill.
However, you can run a bug out drill at any time. Simply gather your supplies from home, throw them into your vehicle and get out of your home to your designated destination using alternative routes.
See how many obstacles there are along the way, see how long it takes you in good traffic, check out any spots that may be able to safely pull over if you need to (such as for the bathroom, especially for kids). Really observe the areas you’re going through and see if there might be other options. Observe the gear you took with you and how it was placed in the vehicle. See how everyone is packed in. Are your animals taken care of/or are they able to come with you?
This is the time to fill in some gaps.
Turn off the lights for a few hours or a whole night, or even a weekend and explore your lights out gear and plans. Can you cook? Do you have enough lights? How is bed time for kids? Entertainment? Hygiene? Cleaning?
Now is the time to jot down notes and fill in any gaps.
When you’re out and about, make it a fun drill for the whole family to always find the nearest exits. Those exits can be doors or windows, clearly marked or otherwise. Anything that leads into another space, preferably outside, or into another room which could lead outside, is an exit.
Find the best space in your home and in public spaces where you might go if there were a sudden tornado spotted in your area. Get to a location away from windows or glass, usually a bathroom or closet.
What steps would you take if you suddenly felt an Earthquake? The recommended steps would be to drop to your hands and knees, take cover (like under a table) and hold onto that cover (or cover your head/neck). If you’re inside, stay inside, stay away from windows or mirrors.
If you’re outside, get away from the sides of buildings because of potentially falling debris.
Do you know the types of fires that are possible and how to prevent them as well as take care of them should they happen?
Do you have an up-to-date fire extinguisher that is easily accessible? Do you have baking soda handy for grease fires?
There are many things that can or should be done during an active attack. I would recommend taking an active attack course to get the best knowledge.
The one I took instructed us to simply look for the nearest exits, any exits and simply go away from the attacker. To first, avoid.
Plan your exit strategy before it ever happens.
Barricade any room. Deny access.
Once barricades, lay on the floor if you can’t exit the room.
If you must, defend. Act more violently than them.
Avoid, deny, defend.
Nobody is looking to you to be a hero, however, if you have the training and skills to do so, that’s a decision you must make for yourself.
Defense – home and public
What are your defense plans for at home and in public?
Take a look at your home defense by taking a home assessment, walking around the inside and outside of your home and see what could be improved. More window locks? Cutting down bushes that people could hide behind? More lighting in that dark corner of your house? A door kick plate?
Out in public, are you situationally aware? What are your actions should you see something start to go down? Get out of there? Call 911? Drive far away? Defend? These are all part of your drills and plans.
If there’s an emergency at work, the store, friends house, how could you get home as quickly as possible? What if you couldn’t get home by driving? How long would it take you to walk home? Would you be prepared to do that?
This is a drill that can be run every single day at home and out and about. It’s simply about being in the moment, staying off your phone and observing what’s going on around you.
- What are people wearing?
- What sounds do you hear?
- How are people acting?
- How’s the weather?
- How’s your personal mental and emotional state?
- Where are the nearest exits?
Make it a game with your family to point out everything they see and hear. Encourage them to be observant and tell you about everything that’s going on around them. Kids especially can be super observant and see things we just don’t see. Listen to them.
Schedule times throughout the year to run these some of these drills. Doing a blackout and bug out drill once a year is better than not doing it at all. Practicing situational awareness is definitely an everyday habit that is developed over time.
Don’t beat yourself up if something goes “wrong”. This is the point of running drills, so that we can be as prepared as possible.
Understand that situations will dictate what does and doesn’t happen. But running drills, having plans and being prepared gives us a leg up and a foundation to work on.