This weekend my sister-in-law got hitched and we found ourselves (my in-law’s, actually) hosting dozens of people over the course of a few days. Certainly, it dawned on me, “what would I do if a disaster struck right now?” Fortunately, nothing eventful happened, with respect to a disaster, that is. (The wedding was fun and exhausting… thanks for asking!)
Why does it matter to you?
First, it’s your home and you’re responsible for your guest’s safety and well-being while they’re there. Second, seeing as though these people are close family and friends I’m sure you would want them to stay safe… well, most of them anyway.
To be honest, I didn’t have a plan at all while our guests were in town… and therein lies the problem! I’m not saying that I should have welcomed each person into the home with a disaster plan in hand and a walk-through of our storm shelter, but I should definitely have a clue as to what I would have done if the need arose. After all, I’m the one that needs to keep a level head.
So what can you do?
For starters, I would ensure you have ample warning of pending disasters if at all possible. A weather radio is a must-have prep, regardless of entertaining guests or not, so you should keep an ear open for yours while your guests are around. Obviously, some disasters such as an earthquake cannot be planned for; however, others such as hurricanes can be anticipated days in advance. In such a case it might be wise to be ready and willing to cancel or cut short events if at all possible.
If plans cannot be canceled and the potential for an emergency is real, then ensure your guests are alerted to that fact ASAP in as calm of a manner as possible. In most cases, I would suspect that you would want to keep your guests at your home rather than kicking them out. In fact, you may need/want to insist your guests stay put as some people may panic and attempt to flee when they should not (such as a pending tornado).
After announcing said disaster I would then have a plan for your guests. If it’s something like a tornado then work to send as many people as possible to the storm shelter or basement. Where I live many homes are equipped with a concrete storm shelter for tornadoes, however, it is not nearly large enough to fit dozens of people. In such a case you may have to make difficult decisions, such as women and children first.
A more likely scenario might a fire. Again, rather than walking each guest through your designated fire plan, perhaps a better option would be to designate a few adults as “emergency managers” who would be responsible for getting everyone out safely. Designate them in advance and give them the two minute tour of what to do and expect. While I’ve never attempted this strategy I may very well try it next time.
I can’t say I have a good plan much beyond these. The mere fact that you have thought about such a scenario puts you ahead of the game. Just remember to keep a level head too and you’re about as ready as most hosts can be.