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Disaster Tip of the Week: Always Be Prepared for Anything, Even When Having The Time of Your Life

The Recent tragedy of the Costa Concordia cruise ship off the coast of Italy this weekend reminded me of how important it is to be prepared. Prepared for anything, at anytime, even when having the time of your life while on vacation.

The last thing most of us are thinking about when we go on vacation, attend a wedding, a sporting event, or even to the movies is what we would do when tragedy strikes (WTSHTF). Let's face it, it's not usually top of mind for most people in any case. But, there are things you can and should do that may save the lives of those closest to you, and maybe even your own.

What are these things you should do? I am glad you asked:

  • Whenever you go somewhere unfamiliar or to an event with a large group of people, always know where ALL the exits are, and the closest one to where you are.
  • Look around, get to know your surroundings - the closest exit may not always be the best choice if everyone else is headed the same way. Think about how you would make your escape from the venue should trouble arise.
  • When you're on a plane, ship or even at a meeting where they are giving safety information, stop and listen. 
  • Follow your Gut. Know when you should follow direction, and more importantly if your gut is telling you to ignore direction, when you should listen. During 9/11 the announcement told people in the second tower struck told people to turn around and go back to work. Not all of those who did so, made it out. Also, even though others may have some training around you, you never know how someone will react in an emergency, until of course it happens. 
  • If you're in a high-rise, or on an upper floor know where all the stairways are. Are there connectors and breaks? If one was blocked, how would you get out? What if all the stair where blocked, is there another way out? Through a wall? Can you move the debris?

This is not a complete and exhaustive list, nor is it meant to be. Adapt to your situation, think ahead and if you practice doing this often enough you'll find you can do it just by taking a quick glance around the room.