Developing family emergency procedures

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

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Like any parent worth their weight in Bitcoins, I have emergency procedure documents for just about any situation our family might find ourselves in. In honesty, I’ve been developing these documents all my life. It started when I was 12 and was about to walk through a forest with my family and a guide gave us some hints for making sure we didn’t get eaten by bears.

“I do need a plan to escape the clutches of a bear,” I thought to myself. “I also need one to get out from behind a waterfall and to escape a locked movie theatre.”

Since having kids, the list has only grown. Their imaginations have helped me realize that it’s not only bears and waterfalls I might need to save us from, it’s things like witches and foxes who steal crap too. My list is probably over 300 situation long now and I don’t know that many other families have quite so many—but do think they should.

While I don’t carry binders full of procedure around with me, I do keep them in a lock box near the front of my brain. I’m going to share my most recently developed one as a sort of template for you to start building your own plans. Remember, safety first, and only you can prevent forest fires.

The situation: one of my children reveals she has ice magic

This is from the block of plans I’ve only started developing since children which shows a willingness on our part to adapt to potentially threatening situations as we realize they are potentially dangerous situations. Would I have envisioned having an ice princess daughter when I was growing up? No, I would not have. But now we’ve seen Frozen (30 times) and the likelihood of one of my children eventually revealing they can make snow with their hands has become a real possibility.

Also, this speaks very much to us preparing for absolutely any emergency, not just the more typical “get your family out of a burning house,” plans that every single family should be thinking about.

How to act immediately

We have the luxury of having seen a family cope with a daughter with magical freezing powers and as Mike at Dad and Buried revealed, they did not do a very good job. In my plan, the very first thing I do when my daughter reveals she has snow in her skin is to preach acceptance. Hugs, kisses and high fives, all of which show I’m not afraid of being turned into a snowman, will show my daughter that I still love her. We also console the non-magic sister because as shocking as it is to realize you have ice hands, it can be just as tough to realize that you don’t have ice hands. You can’t favour one child over the other based on which one has magic.

The very first thing under any emergency is to make sure your children are safe. Once I ensure the magic one is emotionally safe, I put the other, n0n-magic one, in a snowsuit in case the magic one gets a little crazy with her powers.

Things to buy: a “so you have magic, that’s real cool,” greeting card, a “so you don’t have magic and your sister does, that’s just fine,” greeting card.

24 hours out

Once I’ve made sure my kids are both emotionally and physically safe, I create a list of things I can do to snow-proof the house. In this instance we need a lot of plastic. Our floors and furniture would both be destroyed by prolonged exposure to snow and ice and at this point our magic daughter, knowing we aren’t going to lock her in a room for 16 years, has realized how fun it is to shoot snow and ice from her hands.

So, we cover the house in plastic and make a sign to hang on the front door that states we have a child who can shoot snow. This isn’t meant to shame my magical daughter as much as it is meant to let people entering know they can wear their boots in the house to avoid getting wet feet.

We set some rules about where we can and cannot shoot magical hills of snow and begin the process of telling friends and family the news. We use Skype so she can show them the kinds of things she can do.

Things to buy: Costco-sized plastic rolls, water-resilient markers for a door sign, a good wireless internet plan, toboggans.

One week out

By now, teachers have realized the magic daughter isn’t in school. So, we call the principal and let her know that our child has ice in her and that she’ll be back in class the next week. We ask if there’s any way we can get her homework from the week she missed and if there are any children who are allergic to snow and ice so we can talk to their parents to make sure we aren’t inconveniencing them.

We, like in Frozen, have also purchased a pair of good winter gloves for the magical daughter to wear because even though she can make snow, we kind of have a rule in place that requests, when possible, that she keep her snow outside the house. At the very least out of the common living areas. With that in place, she knows she has to go outside with her sister for winter play and her fingers are no less susceptible to frostbite than anyone else’s.

We’ve also purchased indoor winter gear for the rest of the family because we notice the furnace, while still quite efficient, can’t keep up with the cold air generated from a sleeping ice box. I pick yellow because it’s my favourite colour and it gives me an excuse to cheer for the Pittsburgh Penguins all the time. Also, we think about whether or not we could keep a real penguin as a pet given the new temperature in the house.

Things to buy: a second pair of winter gloves, family snowsuits, stock in natural gas.


My magical daughter saves me at least 24 hours every year as she takes care of putting together the family skating rink. We  also have the opportunity to create a very strong neighbourhood hockey team owing to the fact that we have access to skating year-round.

Most importantly though, we support both our girls through any difficulties they have surrounding the magic or non-magic. Prom might be tough and it might be difficult to drive a car with summer tires but we want to support them throughout their childhood and teenage years.

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