Tuesday, July 19, 2011

In Case of Emergency…

This weekend, my husband and I started talking about specific instances that happened throughout our school experiences. He lived in Seattle for a short while, later moving to Salt Lake City and I grew up in the DC suburbs in Virginia. Random Fact: I went to public school my whole life until transferring to a private school halfway through my sophomore year.

I experienced tornado drills, getting let out of school early for snow, having the drug-sniffing dogs come in, and being put on lock-down for things like a gang fight and when the Pentagon was hit on 9/11. I assumed my experience was normal for most public high schools (well, minus the Pentagon part.) PS I promise this sounds worse than it actually was. These things didn’t happen everyday.

Then, my husband told me what he experienced. Earthquake drills. That was it.

My experience in private school was certainly different. I didn’t have to worry about dodging my way through a fight to get to class on the other side of the hallway. It’s funny how school atmospheres can be so different. I admit, though, the gang fight still gives me a great story to tell :)

So, then we moved on to our professional lives. I talked about the fire drills we had as well as the shelter-in-place drills. “Shelter-in-what?” was pretty much his response. I worked a block from The White House so I understood the immediate importance of having that drill but I also figured this was a regular drill to have elsewhere since terrorist attacks and chemical spills can happen anywhere!

This got me thinking -- About drills and how seriously we take them. More importantly, how prepared are we?


Here’s a true story for you: I had been in Wisconsin for training for work and would be flying out of Chicago O’Hare (happy happy, joy joy. Not) to go home. Well, long story short – due to weather, my flight was cancelled and there were no available flights into Norfolk for another two days. Seriously? I had class the next morning! Luckily, I found a flight into Richmond the next morning but still had to find a hotel in Chicago to stay overnight. Oh, that was two hours after finally getting my luggage and my phone going dead.

Found my hotel, got settled in, turned on the TV to fall asleep to (anyone else do that when you’re alone?) and – SHRIEK! SHRIEK! SHRIEK! Cue the glorious fire alarms. I immediately go into semi-panic mode, throw my shoes on, grab my cell phone and wallet and go out into the hallway. I find everyone else with their little heads peeking out their doors, frozen solid as I book it to the staircase. Uh, hello people?! FIRE ALARM at 1am. This is not a test!!

I go down into the lobby to find a mere HAND-FULL of people waiting as the fire trucks arrive and the firemen run inside. What is wrong with this picture? Sure, I understand it’s 1am and many people were probably in their PJ’s, but what was their plan if the building started burning down? Were they just going to wait and see if a fireman knocked on their door to tell them to leave?

In this case, it was a false-alarm and we were told we could go back to our rooms about 30-40 minutes later once  the entire hotel had been checked. But, it’s not always a false alarm and it’s most definitely not always a drill.

What has happened that has made people so lackadaisical when they hear an alarm? Does everyone listen to the emergency instructions before take-off? Do YOU look for the nearest exit at the movie theatre?

What were your drills growing up? What are your false alarm stories? Do tell!

Just something to think about. Be smart. Be prepared. Our lives are far too precious to take for granted, don’t you think? :)


dana @ wonder forest said...

When i was in school, we never had anything like this. well, besides regular fire drills. but living here we never had to worry about earthquakes, tornadoes, or whatever else happens!

You just reminded me of a story though lol... when I was about 17 my friends and I were going to stay at a hotel by ourselves for a night. My friend's mom was very worried and actually took us all through a drill in case there was a hotel fire. Like I mean crawling on the floor and how to go through doors and what to do if there's smoke and everything lol!! Talk about terrifying us! Thankfully we were fire-drill free that night.

xo dana

Torie said...

Growing up in Iowa, we had drills up the poopshoot. We had fire drills, tornado drills. One time we had a brown-out where the power went out during the day. That wasn't a drill, but it did suck. We've had bomb threats where we had to evacuate until the lockers were searched and such.

I think the reason people are so blase about it is because of the number of false-alarms we've been exposed to. The sheer force of 2 am fire alarms ala dorm room I've had to deal with is a little ridiculous going into my third year.

Still, I agree with you. It's always better to be on the safe side. I'm still the type to run downstairs if it thunderstorms badly, and even though I hate those 2 am fire alarms, I still take them seriously.

Awesome, thoughtful post :) Stay safe!

ashley said...

The lifeline of our little town is a huge oil refinery. They have alarms and drills going off pretty regularly and I think it makes people hear pretty casual about alarm systems. We also have a city emergency alarm system that tests every Tuesday morning. If something were really going on, I wonder if anyone would even notice?

Miss K said...

i remember having drills in UT where we would go under our desks, but i don't remember what they were for. in CA we didn't do any drills that i remember. in an earthquake i usually run for the door frame as soon as possible. good for you to run to the lobby! if it was a real fire, you would have survived!

Laura said...

I am so that person that always wonders "what if there's a fire?" you bet your booty I'm checking for the nearest one in a movie theater and checking out the fire escape route in a hotel.

plus whenever the tornado sirens go off here, I am down in the basement in less than 5 mins. I am not messing with that stuff!

Alysson said...

great post!! I totally agree with you-take precautions and alarms serious!


jess said...

We had fire drills and lots of tornado drills! I agree and think a lot of people do not take alarms as seriously as they should. During my freshman year of college, one of the dorms' residents got this bright idea to pull the fire alarm in the middle of the night and they did this all of the time. Not only was it annoying but think what that does for people when they hear the fire alarm. They will never take it seriously!

Michelle Leigh said...

Hey just found your blog! I went to private school most of my life and the stories I hear from my friends who attended public school are SO different! I can't think of one instance where a fight broke out. Not a single one!
And as far as the fire alarm situation goes, a similar situation happened in my apartment. The alarms went off at 2 a.m. and most people just casually sauntered outside joking about who burnt the popcorn, haha.