For the past several months, I have been serving as the emergency preparedness specialist in my ward (for the non-Mormons: a volunteer position in my local congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). A few weeks ago, I was asked to serve in the same position at a stake level (for the non-Mormons: this means I’m overseeing the preparedness activities of 15 different congregations).
I have a lot to work on! One of the things I’m doing right out the gate is to update our stake’s emergency preparedness plan. Our stake was formed only five years ago, so when it was organized, they got the preparedness plans of a nearby stake, and basically copied and pasted the name of the new stake over the other stake’s name in the plan. Reading over that plan now, I curiously wonder how long it had been since that other stake had updated it.
Why, you may ask? Get a load of this… In a section dealing with what to do after an emergency, it says:
Write, telegraph or telephone your relatives after the emergency is over, so they will know you are safe.
Telegraph. I kid you not, the plan suggests using the telegraph as a means of communication (second to writing…) for getting in touch with loved ones. Telegraph.
The LDS Church published a new website on preparedness recently which has some helpful information (albeit nothing new). Note that there are several sections on this page; in the section titled “Ward and Stake Emergency Plans” we read the following:
Plans should be updated periodically.
So, I’ll be replacing telegraph with texting, or Twitter, or Facebook. :) And while it’s certainly important for wards and stakes (and cities and states and companies and private organizations) to keep their emergency plans up to date, it’s crucially important that families do so.
Just yesterday I was reviewing our family list. Over the past couple of years, I’ve crossed things out on the original list and have written in new things—locations of where to find a certain important item, or what to evacuate with, etc. Even so, the latest information is slightly out of date, and needs to be revised.
In the chaotic minutes that follow an emergency, it will be extremely difficult to think with a clear mind and recall what we should do, or bring, or get set up. Having a detailed plan to refer to will help us ensure that our loved ones our safe, our homes are secured, and the needs of anybody injured or distressed are responded to.
So set aside some time in the next few days to go over (or begin!) your family plans and set calendar reminders every few months to review the list and see if anything needs to be updated or added. Because surely you wouldn’t want to be wondering, amidst the commotion of an emergency, where to find a telegraph.