How to Mentally Condition yourself for an Emergency

By: Stephanie Larkin

Many people who have gone through an emergency situation find that they will react in one of two ways. Either they will be frozen in time and not able to take any action because of fear or hysteria or they will know precisely what they need to do because they've planned, prepared and conditioned themselves mentally to handle the situation.

Emergencies come in many different forms. Most of us think of natural disasters such as storms, earthquakes or fires. Sometimes natural disasters have secondary effects that can be as bad as or worse than the original cause. Another type of emergency is accidents or assaults either on the person or the property. A sudden serious illness can cause much the same response as an accident. Finally, an economic emergency can result from lost jobs or business failure.

By conceptualizing an action plan of what you would do in the event of an emergency situation, you have taken the first step in mentally conditioning yourself. Set aside some time individually or with those in your household and make a list of those types of emergency situations that you might be involved in. Sometimes, just putting a name to your fears will help you to realize that you are rarely totally helpless in the event of an emergency.

You may want to list those potential emergency situations according to whether they are caused by natural disasters, accidents, illness, economics or other factors. For example, a forest fire that is threatening your home is an external force. If your home is lost to a forest fire or a foreclosure, that would be an economic disaster. Then after each emergency situation, list items in two categories, those things that you can do something about, and those that can't be helped. It may be helpful to brainstorm about each of the items on your list. You may find that even items which you believe can't be helped could be improved or resolved with some pre-planning.

For example, if you were attacked a mugger you may think that nothing could help the results of the attack. However, what about self defense classes? How about avoiding dark streets late at night? At a minimum, you could carry a weapon that is easily accessible to you when you are in dangerous situations. Learn to use a gun if you are repeatedly in circumstances where you could be attacked.

Once you have made a list of things that you can do in the event of such an event, visualize yourself taking successful action using the action steps that you listed earlier. If one of your emergency situations that you have listed is a tornado, for example, you might make a list that includes preparing supplies in a tornado shelter. Then you visualize yourself when a tornado warning comes, calmly gathering family members or pets and moving to the shelter. You make sure to visualize yourself being calm and collected, knowing that your have done needed advance planning and preparation.

The final stage in mental conditioning for the onset of an emergency is to practice. If your community has emergency practice drills occasionally, volunteer to be a part of arranging them or even being a victim. Often part of the drills involves volunteers looking very realistically like victims. Knowing that you have practiced simulated emergencies and that you know what to do will help you to remain calm in the event of a real event.

On a more personal level, you can teach your family members what to do in the event of a fire in the home by having home fire drills. Fairly young children can be taught fire safety, lifesaving skills and even basic first aid.

While it's impossible to foresee and plan for every possible emergency that could occur, some procedures and preparation plans will help you to maintain mental calmness in the event of various emergencies. The habits that you form and the pre planning and preparation that you do will help you to focus on ways of dealing with an emergency that arises that you haven't thought about. You will be able to make use of the common ingredients and carryover techniques for handling situations to bolster your mental control.

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