Monday, October 29, 2012

Family Preparedness

On a recent morning we were all getting ready for our day when my son came to me and said a black car had just come down our driveway. The car didn't match the usual ride-share to school, and we weren't expecting visitors, so I went downstairs to check it out. By then the car had turned around and was facing the street, and I recognized the passenger as the expected classmate of my son. It turns out the ride was early, and since the dad was driving it was a different than usual vehicle. As I approached the car I told him my son would be out in a moment, and relayed that I had been warned of a strange car coming down the driveway. He replied "Did you get your gun?" I chuckled and replied "I already HAD my gun."

In the aftermath of this brief alert I had two immediate thoughts. First of all, I found the question about retrieving my gun interesting. What good is a gun for protection if you have to go get it when you suddenly find you may need it? My weapon stays on my belt during my waking moments. It's pretty useless anywhere else.

Secondly, I was proud of our son. He saw the strange car, he didn't assume it was his ride, and he alerted me. He didn't run downstairs to check for himself, nor did he follow me downstairs out of curiosity.

This little incident made me think more about preparedness, especially as it applies to family members in the home. Those who have taken on the responsibility for their own and their family's security know that it's not just important to train yourself in weapons, tactics, and situational awareness, you must also train those around you, especially younger family members.

One of the first things to teach them is to NOT say "My Dad/Mom has a gun," either to their friends or when there is an event that raises the level of awareness. It seems obvious, but I've heard more than one young person making public proclamations about their Dad carrying a weapon. I've witnessed my own son biting his tongue when friends are sharing info they shouldn't or bragging about their Dad and his guns.

Another very important aspect is to help family members become more aware of their surroundings. You can even make this a game. We've done this frequently. After sitting down in a restaurant for example, there may be a pop quiz regarding exit locations. Or I may ask a question about other people in a room; "How many people are here?" or "Who's by the door?", etc. Sometimes I make a game of finding other concealed carriers in the room. A word of warning, you may find your kids will notice more than you!

Another important tool in your family's defenses is a code that alerts when immediate action is needed. Face it, teenagers don't always jump when Dad says jump. Also, most people have a tendency to want to look for themselves when warned of a problem. In our family we have a set of unobtrusive code words that can be worked into any conversation, without thought or effort, which mean directions are to be followed NOW. Combined with the code, if Dad says we have to leave, it means we are leaving without delay or question. If the command is to run or take cover, it's done without looking for the "why." The alert word is a command to follow the accompanying direction NOW and WITHOUT QUESTION. Our code is also shared with a very close, frequent companion, who is essentially another family member. It is not shared with lots of people, nor will we let just anyone in on the secret. A secret code is only as good as the privacy kept by those in the circle. You can come up with your own inside communication tools for your family — ones that best fit your circumstances and your group memories.

Noticing potential danger signs is a great skill for everyone to have. This helps to avoid danger before it ever gets serious. You also need to practice these skills with your family. When the time comes to protect your family, the response must be planned, rehearsed and executed without delay or hesitation.