So the college freshman plans to study abroad this summer.
Regular readers will recall my efforts to get her prepared for college with her updated get home bag, complete with emergency quarters for things like putting air in her tires that she did not use to put air in her tires despite the fact they were there for that purpose.
And so I am facing a new challenge in preparedness - getting a smart, pretty, 19 year old college student ready to spend six weeks in Europe doing whatever college students do in Europe. (Editorial note: immediately upon typing that sentence, I grimaced. Straight up.)
She survived a week in Destin on college spring break earlier this month, which, statistically, was probably more dangerous than six weeks in Spain she will be spending. Nonetheless, I can get to Destin fairly quickly in an emergency if I had to. Getting to Madrid and parts beyond when things get hot is not as easy.
I've already reached out to my contact at Ole Miss who heads up emergency management to see who I might talk to about the University's plans for doing hot extracts should things at a study abroad venue become dicey. I'd like to know if a) the University has a plan for this contingency and b) if so, what are the details? I'll be impressed if we get to part (b) of that question. I'll be relieved if the answer to part (b) is robust.
Most parents would likely be concerned about the welfare of their child studying abroad, of course. Most parents, however, would not likely go through the exercise of preparing their kid for the possibility of a worse case scenario that would require them to leave the country for another European country or to return back to the U.S. due to an emergency.
The prepper mind tends to think about terrorism these days when it comes to possible threats one might face in Europe. To wit:
Exhibit A - Time Magazine's article entitled "Terror attacks in developed world surge 650% in one year"
Exhibit B - WaPo's "45 years of terrorist attacks in Europe, visualized"
Exhibit C - Europol's "Islamic State Changing Terror Tactics To Maintain Threat In Europe"
And yet other concerns could lead to significant impacts to societal stability:
Exhibit D - Reuters' "EU would be less stable without UK"
Exhibit E - Carnegie Europe's "The Threats to Europe's Democracy and Stability"
I hasten to add: I'm not a helicopter parent, ever dissuading her from doing this activity or going to that place. Part of growing up is learning how to respond appropriately if you find yourself in harm's way, learning to take and appropriately manage the risk of any activity or opportunity. We do our kids no favors when we tell them "don't go to X place because terrorists might kill you."
Instead, I'm a big believer in telling them "there's evil and danger everywhere. Be on the lookout, steer clear of high risk situations, have a plan and resources to deal with problems, and help your friends do the same." My job is to help her understand the risks and prepare her for them.
So What Are The Risks?
Let's go back to the frequency/severity model I've talked about from time to time. The higher frequency threats she faces include:
The more unlikely but more dramatic risks include:
So what are those contingency plans/skills?
I realize many will read this and think I am being overly cautious. Perhaps I am. But living a prepared lifestyle means you identify and manage the risks you will face, knowing the limitations of the environment you are in. Her environment for six weeks will be 5,090 miles from home, according to Google, in a land where she does not speak the local language. Such trips require additional efforts to be prepared. I look forward to helping her get there.
Here's where I tell you what I think about things I think about.