Sometimes indecision doesn’t matter
Even during normal times it can sometimes be difficult to make a decision, especially in regards to the little things:
What color shirt should I wear today?
What flavor of ice cream should I buy?
Should I order something I already know I like from the restaurant’s menu, or branch out and try something new?
We dither, go back and forth, ask others for advice, etc. (“What do you think about this new entree? Is it good? What do you recommend?) Ordering lunch is hardly a crisis. A restaurant is (normally) a perfectly safe place to sit and think “umm” for as long as you need to.
However, in a real crisis, that indecision could realistically cost lives, including your own. I could cite many, many examples of this: fatalities as a result of Hurricanes Rita, Katrina, and Ike; or little Mary Ingalls who, when the chimney of her house caught fire, sat in a rocking chair gaping at it until her younger sister Laura saved her.
The time to make decisions is now
This is the “preparedness” part of “emergency preparedness.” If you know ahead of time what to do in a crisis and plan for a variety of contingencies, you will be much more likely to get through it to the other side. Think of things you must know immediately and instinctively to react in a sudden, possibly dangerous crisis. What decisions should you make now so there is no question at all when you must respond?
- Where do you keep our Go Bags and what should you put in them?
- Where is there always a set of spare keys?
- Which compartment in your purse has the pepper spray?
Imagine, if you will, needing it right then but having to dig to the bottom of your purse first, having to pull out extra diapers, little Johnny’s collection of toy cars, and a box of crayons.
- Is there a specific place in the house where you keep band-aids and antibiotic cream?
- Who are your emergency contacts, are their numbers pre-programed into your phone, and can the kids find them?
- If you have specialized emergency gear (HAM radio, water purification gadgets/ tablets, solar-powered cell phone charger), do you know how to actually use them?
- If you have to evacuate when you’re at home and the kids are at school, where/ when/ how will you meet up?
- What, besides, your Go Bags, should you take?
- In the event of a planned evacuation,at what point will you pack up and leave?
Practice, practice, practice.
In a lot of ways, answering the questions on your list will involve not just thinking things through but doing dry runs. This is why evacuation drills are so important. American embassies and military bases do evacuation drills on a regular basis for this very reason.
BUY NOW! Emergency Evacuations: Get Out Fast When It Matters Most by Lisa Bedford.
If you must execute an urgent evacuation and have 15 minutes to load up your car, buckle your kids, and get on the highway, there will be no time for panicking, and no time for “umm.” If, however, you have practiced, you will know what to do, where to go, what to say, etc. These things should be automatic and mindless.
Some decisions, like the ones listed above, can be made well ahead of time. Training yourself to react when you have fractions of a second to make a choice is more difficult. And there will be times when you will have to choose to do something, even when the pros and cons of each choice are not clear. Do you swerve into oncoming traffic to avoid the deer, or take your chances with the deer? Do you evacuate into dicey conditions to avoid the hurricane, or stick it out, not knowing exactly how your neighborhood will be affected by the storm?
If you wait too long to decide, the decision will be made for you, and it may not be the one you really wanted. And there won’t be any take-backsies, either: You will have to be committed to your decision and its consequences.
Back to the discussion about the karate drill. Ideally, in the seconds before the attack comes, as far as the drill is concerned, you’ll be able to think, “OK, I’ll do such-and-such and it will be fine.” But what if, in the heat of the moment, you find that your opponent is coming in at the wrong angle for your chosen technique to be effective? Or he’s moving too slowly? Too quickly?
If you’ve practiced your martial arts techniques enough, in the heat of the moment your training will take over and your muscles will know what to do, even if your brain is still a few seconds behind. This may mean altering the technique to your circumstances or choosing a different technique at the last nanosecond. You’ll be able to adapt to the unexpected, without consciously realizing it, thereby effectively defending yourself.
Put another way: The time to prepare is not in the seconds before the attack, but in all the time you’ve been taking karate lessons up to that point. (Ever thought of becoming involved in the martial arts? Here’s how to choose a dojo!)
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