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That ‘in-between’ of safety preparedness

In any endeavor there is a means and there is an end. The effort one makes to achieve any target is construed to be the means while the target is the end. But in between those, is the journey itself- the journey that achieves the end.

When we speak of safety, the means are firstly acquiring accurate knowledge of perceived threats and thereafter, taking steps to protect oneself, one’s dependants and ones belongings, as the case may be, from the forces that can do harm. The end is that if ever, the threat actually manifests one’s protection is in place to thwart it.

Unlike many other targets the target here is a little more tricky to actually achieve. This is because, while the means and the end may be clear, the ‘in-between’ can easily be lost sight of. For example, if we are aware that fire can destroy our enclosed space we buy extinguishers and install fire alarms and be done with. But the ‘in-between’ here is significant because the term of the entire effort could be the rest of our life. Fire may strike tomorrow, next week, next month, next year or maybe, ten years later. So that ‘in-between’ period is infinity.

Question is firstly, “Have we taken all steps to begin with?” And secondly, “Will the safety paraphernalia hold for infinity?”

If we take the example quoted above, the answer to both questions is a firm “NO”. Let us assume a fire breaks out in the night after the extinguishers and alarms are in place. The alarm rings and you rush to escape. But the darkness and smoke clouds your vision and you cannot see what is ahead. Assume you grope your way chokingly to the room where the fire extinguisher is located but it is too dark and you cannot see the fire extinguisher. Let us also assume you reach the extinguisher, but you do not know exactly how to use the damn thing and mind you, you are choking and your life force is diminishing by the second. See what I mean?

So, to begin with one must be aware that to be truly prepared one must have practical knowledge of the use of the instruments and also a plan ‘B’in place if things go sideways. The National Building Code has certain guidelines to ensure safety in enclosed spaces. To begin with-study it and act by it.

Darkness is the first enemy. So installing alarms and extinguishers is fine but it needs to be backed up by imparting usage training of extinguishers to all in the premises and by installing emergency lighting and ‘glow’ signs to let people ‘see’ in the dark as well. The extinguisher itself must be accompanied by a luminous sign pointing to it when it needs to be accessed physically in precious seconds. Luminous Route markers that show the nearest exit from any point within the premises must be mandatory.

That ‘in-between’ period being infinity, it is important, nay vital, that periodical re- assessment of the paraphernalia be made to see that all the instruments of safety are in perfect working order at all times. Signs are not muddied with time and age and emergency lights are fully charged. Also, new members in family or staff must be trained, updated and prepared for any emergency with the use of standard safety drills and similar efforts. Safety is never final. It is in continuity. Hence, the ‘in-between’ could be the difference between life and death.