Every year, September delivers two of my favorite things: football and National Preparedness Month (NPM). This year, NPM focuses on “the importance of preparing children and teenagers for possible emergencies and disasters,” with the tagline “Prepared, Not Scared.”
In many ways, being prepared is like getting ready for a football game, and an offense planning for a tough defense. You know the defense is coming. You’re not always sure exactly how, or what, or when you’ll encounter serious adversity, but you have to prepare for it, and you have to try to be ready. Sometimes you get lucky and the defense doesn’t do anything notable. Sometimes you face an oncoming disaster as NFL quarterbacks do when they face an incoming Khalil Mack – filled with anxiety and hoping for the best. But good coaches don’t leave their offenses simply hoping to stop Khalil: they plan for him, they prepare for him, and they do their best to manage the disaster of that pressure coming at them relentlessly for 60 minutes.
Each week of National Preparedness Month, the Ready Campaign is emphasizing a unique aspect of preparedness. For week one, the focus was “Save Early for Disaster Costs.” The remaining weeks emphasize important ideas to help us all be “Prepared, Not Scared”:
- Sept. 8-14: Make a Plan to Prepare for Disasters
- Sept. 15-21: Teach Youth to Prepare for Disasters
- Sept. 22-30: Get Involved in Your Community’s Preparedness
Prepare for disasters like you’d prepare for Khalil Mack. FEMA defines disasters as “an occurrence of a natural catastrophe, technological accident, or human-caused event that has resulted in severe property damage, deaths, and/or multiple injuries.” As such, disasters can be all-hazards – extremist attacks to cyber mayhem, pandemics to hurricanes. By all means, Hurricane Dorian served as a great example of a disaster – wreaking havoc on the Bahamas and serving as a severe threat to the East Coast. Though Dorian was mostly a miss for the U.S., communities from Florida into New England (and maybe even in Alabama…) prepared for what could have been a crushing blow from a mighty hurricane.
As the NFL kicked off last week, the year appropriately got off featuring the most dominating defensive force and potential disaster for offenses in the NFL, as Khalil Mack and the Chicago Bears squared off against the Green Bay Packers. For the rest of the season, as opponents prepare for the Bears, great attention will be given to how to prepare for Mack, and how to minimize his disruption on the field. Khalil Mack is an occurrence of a human-caused event that has the potential to result in severe damage and multiple injuries.
As coaches try to get their teams ready for their games, parents, teachers and other adults should strive to prepare children and teenagers for possible emergencies and disasters. Like NFL offenses, we want our team to be “Prepared, Not Scared.”
Make a Plan to Prepare for Disasters. Coaches need to plan for Khalil. We need to plan for our potential disasters. Families, businesses, schools, and all organizations need to have plans to be ready. Ready guidance on planning includes:
- Put together a plan by discussing these four questions:
- Consider specific needs in your household.
- Fill out a Family Emergency Plan.
- Practice your plan.
Teach Youth to Prepare for Disasters. Defenses want to take advantage of opportunities. One great opportunity for defensive coaches is in attacking rookie offensive linemen. Most centers, guards, and tackles have never had to go up against a force as overwhelming as Khalil. All the more true for rookie players just coming into the NFL. Coaches need to mentally and physically prepare their rookies to hold up for the winds of hurricane Khalil. As adults, we should prepare our youth for the potential disasters we all may encounter. From planning for active shooters and other hostile events, to preparing for social media phishing and other malicious online activity, to making sure we have a disaster kit ready for an emergency situation, children should be involved in preparedness. When rookies know what to expect, they are better prepared for the crushing force they encounter in trying to block Khalil. When children are involved in preparedness, they are less anxious, familiar with what to do, and better prepared when the threat of a disaster comes.
Get Involved in Your Community’s Preparedness. Good coaches recognize serious threats and plan accordingly. In the trenches of the fight between the offense and defense, coaches will often use other players to assist primary blockers. Maybe a pulling tackle or tight end, maybe a double team in the middle, maybe a fullback coming up to assist – coaches don’t leave single players, especially younger players, alone to challenge Pro Bowl-caliber veterans. When it comes to disaster preparedness, most individuals and households need to operate as part of communities, so FEMA encourages us to get involved in community preparedness. There are resources and training designed to help individuals support community preparedness. Coaches prepare their players, and coaches prepare their teams. We need to prepare our families, our youth, and our communities to prepare for disasters.
Sometimes offenses get lucky with Khalil Mack and he doesn’t derail their plans. The East Coast got lucky with Dorian, but the Bahamas didn’t. Mack will have a few big games this season, and at some point another big hurricane will hit the East Coast, or the Gulf. And it may not be Khalil Mack. It could be another defender, or another team, that gives one team or another their really bad day. And here in the U.S., we’ll see severe weather and natural disasters, but we’ll also experience another significant shooting, a consequential cyberattack, or a pandemic health threat.
Disasters are real. Preparedness makes a difference. This NPM, take some time, talk to your family, and help them to be “Prepared, Not Scared.” And, enjoy some football. Because for all the threats that are out there, there are some really great things to look forward to this fall, too.