We do these "preparedness drills" to better understand our shortfalls and where we excel in situations. You probably have or have had drills on things before. If you played sports you might have done something over and over again so that you got better at it during an actual game. You probably did fire drills at your office or school. These drills were done so that if an actual fire happens you know what you and other are doing and where they are going.
Drills are done to better mentally and physically prepare you and your loved ones by:
Improving confidence: They give you the confidence you need to react in a meaningful way during a stressful situation.
Improving reaction: They are in place so that you act quickly and precisely.
Improving equipment: They are done so that when you act, you do so with the right equipment at the right time.
Many professionals do these types of drills. Paramedics, fire fighters, law enforcement officers, and soldiers. They act as professions. They act as a unit. They act as a family.
I was in the military and will use the military as an example.
When you are in the military, you are in a unit that could be deployed at any time. Troops need to be able to very quickly deploy with all of the personal gear, vehicles, maintenance equipment, weapons, etc. Each individual being deployed brings many of the same basic items that every other soldier is bringing. These would be things like a sleeping bag, knife, firearm, ammunition, medic pouch, clothing, identification tags (dog tags), etc. Everybody has these items because they are items each person needs to have. Each individual also brings different items, depending on their responsibilities or MOS. A cook would need to take everything they need to feed the unit. A medic would need to bring all of the supplies they need to field dress wounds. Communications needs to bring their maintenance tools and extra radios.
All of these soldiers are trained to use their personal gear as well as their job specific gear. They are trained on what they have, basic maintenance of the items, how to store the items and so on.
Soldiers also train on what everybody else's job is and how to interact with the other members of the unit. They understand what the other members job is and what they are responsible for. In many instances they are cross trained so that one can perform the others duty if necessary. They are trained on this in different stages and capacities at different times. Sometimes they will do a partial drill which only includes a certain portion of a possible deployment.
Usually these drills are done in levels.
Level 1 Drill: Everybody grabs all of their personal gear and gets ready to go.
Level 2 Drill: Everybody grabs all of their personal gear, loads all of their equipment into vehicles or containers, loads all personal gear into their deployment vehicle.
Level 3 Drill: Everybody does level 2 drill and deploys to a training location.
Doing these drills, keep your equipment up to date and within standards. The drills help you recognize what is required, where the equipment is located, and how to use the equipment efficiently. Without the drills, your equipment would likely be stored somewhere and you would have to stop and think about where they are and if they are in good condition. The process of stopping to think could take time from you in a situation where every second counts.
During a drill, you should be writing down everything on two separate logs. One for all of the things that were done right and one for everything that needs improvement. If you did not have enough of something, it gets logged. If something you had was not enough or broke down, it gets logged. If a process needs improvement or is not done quickly enough, it gets logged.
These drills are not only about stuff but also help to mentally prepare you for actions. These drills are done in repetition in order to instill a mental process so that you can act under pressure. As a first responder, you practice first aid drills repeatedly. You do these first aid drills many times and do not stop. This repetition helps when reacting to a live situation in which people are severely injured, and the first responder is placed into a high stress situation.
In the military this is called establishing muscle memory. The soldier will practice S.P.O.R.T.S with their M16/M4 rifle over and over again. Sports is performed when the weapon misfires or jams. It stands for Slap the bottom of the magazine, Pull the charging handle to the rear, Observe the chamber for an ejection of the round, Release the charging handle, Tap the forward assist, Squeeze the trigger again. This ensures that, even in a high stress situation, you can still perform actions that you would otherwise have to stop and think about. In the case of sports, you are in a firefight and all of a sudden your rifle is not firing. In this life and death situation the soldier does not want to stop and think about what he needs to do in order to get the rifle firing again. Because he has performed SPORTS many times while in a safe environment, the soldier can perform the action without thinking about what to do. It comes second nature. The soldier does not have to stop and think to himself, okay I need to slap the magazine into place and then pull the charging handle to the rear... they just do it.
The same goes with the Level 1-3 drills I mentioned in the beginning. By doing these exercises they are not only ensuring their equipment is always ready to go, they are mentally preparing by repetition so that they instinctively know exactly where they need to go and what their role is. The military has what is called a QRF (Quick Reaction Force). This is usually a small unit that is always on call and has their equipment and minds ready in case of an attack. If their base getts attacked, the QRF team stops whatever they are doing, grabs their gear (which is already packed and ready to go), deploys to their vehicles, performs a quick function test of their equipment, checks that everybody they are responsible for is present, and than meets the assaulter. They are able to do this very quickly and efficiently because they have practiced doing it so many times that it is instilled into their minds. They instinctively perform each of these actions.getts attacked, the QRF team stops whatever they are doing, grabs their gear (which is already packed and ready to go), deploys to their vehicles, performs a quick function test of their equipment, checks that everybody they are responsible for is present, and than meets the assaulter. They are able to do this very quickly and efficiently because they have practiced doing it so many times that it is instilled into their minds. They instinctively perform each of these actions.
This can apply to anything that you know you will have to do in an emergency. Let's look at something simple as an example. The power goes out at 2300 hours (11:00 PM). Without thinking about it, you go to the kitchen counter and pull out a flashlight. If you practice this very same scenario over and over again, you will perform this action without thinking. If not, you will stop and ask yourself "where is a flashlight?"
One more example. Paramedics and first responders will know exactly what you mean if you ask them what the ABC's of CPR are. A.B.C. stands for Airway, Breathing, Circulation.
Breathing (Rescue Breathing)
Circulation (Chest Compressions)
There are a lot of steps here. All of these steps are done without having to think too hard about each one. They have done these drills so many times that doing them has become second nature.
You should set goals for your reaction time and continue doing the drill until you meet your goals. Once you have met those goals consistently you should set higher goals.
My goal is that if we need to evacuate the house with all of my family members, their equipment, and some common (used by all) equipment need to be loaded into the vehicle. I will conduct this drill at a time when I recognize that I am least prepared to do this drill. Maybe I am sitting on my butt watching TV at the time. My goal is that we are ready to drive away from the house with everything we need to survive within ten minutes.
It took us about twelve of these drills before we met our ten-minute goal. The goal was then changed from ten minutes to eight minutes. We then did the drill until we hit an eight minute completion time. In the military, we would have conducted this drill back to back, over and over again, until we met the goal. With your family, this can become very stressful, and mutiny can arise. Because of this, it is best if you conduct these drills with a reasonable amount of down time between each. Not only will this help with morale, but it will allow you to conduct a more realistic drill.
Which Drills are Right for My Family and Me?
This is determined by your risk assessment. If you have not already done a risk assessment, I recommend you do so before you start doing drills. This will help you in determining which drills are the most relevant to you and your family and which need the most attention. A risk assessment is basically evaluating what is most likely going to have a negative impact on you or your family. You are more likley to have a death in the family or suffer from a job loss than you are to have a nuclear bomb go off in your area. In my area, the chances of the electricity going down for a week are higher than the chances of a riot. Therefore, I will first drill for power outages before I drill for defending my property.
I recommend you write down a list of the top twenty events that could affect your family. Just write them down in any order as they come to mind. Then organize that list by most probable.
Everyone should conduct a power outage drill at least once a year. This applies to those living with alternative power as well.
Whether you consider yourself a prepper, homesteader, farmer, democrat, republican, libertarian or even an anarchist, you are a human. Humans require certain things to survive. We require shelter, food, water, heat and security. As we have evolved, we have become accustomed to niceties like extraordinary modes of transportation, ease of communication, on demand food and electricity.heat and security. As we have evolved, we have become accustomed to niceties like extraordinary modes of transportation, ease of communication, on demand food and electricity.
Have you tried to live without these niceties before? You have probably had them all of your life or at least have gone for quite a long time without not having them. We humans have given up a lot because we have these niceties around all of the time. For example, do you have a wood burning stove and multiple quarts of wood cut up and dried? Some do but most do not. They do not have these because, if it does get cold outside, you can just turn the heat up using propane, natural gas or electricity. Because we have these alternate sources of heat, we have given up on even having a wood burning stove. So what happens if you run out of propane and natural gas? What happens if the power goes out for a long period of time?
Most people would get a bunch of blankets together and add some additional layers of clothing. If you went without for long enough you might go get a hotel room somewhere that does have heat for a couple of days. The layers of clothing only go so far, and the cost of the hotel can add up quickly. You are lucky to be able to get to the hotel because you have those other niceties. You have a speedy mode of transportation to get to the hotel. You have the security of mostly decent people and locks to your home. You have insurance in case someone does break in and steals something while you are away.
But what if you didn't have these niceties? Would you still be comfortable? Would you live through it at all? Have you become dependent on these things that could easily go away or fail some day?
The power outage drill helps you and your family in determining just how vulnerable and how weak you and your family would be if the power went out for a long period of time. It helps you realize where your weaknesses and strengths are. This is not something you do once and assume you are good to go. You do not do this one time, change some things and then stop. You do this in different levels.assume you are good to go. You do not do this one time, change some things and then stop. You do this in different levels.
Your first drill should be during a good time of year. The weather should not be too hot or too cold.
Do this when you have a couple of days off of work or can use vacation time.
Take the keys to your car and put them away somewhere. Pretend they do not exist and that mode of transportation does not exist.
Go outside of your home and pull the main breaker switch that provides power to your house. Kill the power.
Pretend the running water to your home does not work.
For your first drill use the toilets. This is just a drill there is no need to go all out the first time around.
Turn all cell phones off and put them away somewhere you will not access them.
Put away all electronic entertainment devices. iPods, tablets, CD players, etc.
Continue this for 2-3 days.
Keep a journal of everything that goes on. Here are some things you will want to log:
Comfort items: What comfort items would have been nice to have. Maybe some board games or some books to read?
Necessary Items: What items were you missing that either made the situation very difficult or ended the drill.
Organization: What items could be better organize or did you move around for better access.
Morality: What attitude were you and each family member in, when did their attitude change, why did it change.
Food: Did you have enough food? Did it taste good? Were you happy with the amount of food you ate? Was it easy to prepare the food?
Outside Information: How did you, or would you, gather information about the power outage or the cause of the power outage?
Communication: How did you, or would you communicate with the participants of the drill and people outside of the drill?
Evacuation: What would you do if you were forced to evacuate? What would you bring?
Other: What else did you observe.
Level 1: Power outage for 2 days.
- Use the toilets
- Cheat if you have to but log each cheat.
Level 2: Power outage for 2 days
- Use the toilets
- No cheating
Level 3: Power outage for 4 days
- No toilets with running water
- No cheating
Level 4: Power outage for 10 days
- No toilets with running water
- No cheating
After each level review your journal and evaluate your results.
If you had to cheat, make the necessary changes so that when you go to the next level you do not cheat on that again.
If you found something very useful make sure that you have it for the next level.
Get multiples of what was useful so that if they go away or break you have a backup.
I have prepared a document you can use to log your power outage drill here in this circles files:
Power Outage Drill Log Document