Exploring:
Emergency Preparedness—“Greater Than Gold”

By Kim Howey

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Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven (Matt. 6:20).

“Your map is better than mine,” Sophie said to Zach. “Let’s use it, instead.” Sophie and Zach were in charge of family home evening, and they wanted to teach their family what to do if there was a fire in their home. They began by drawing a “treasure map” of their house.

“Is the laundry room here or there?” Zach asked. He didn’t want to leave any rooms out, because the family would soon draw escape routes for each room on the map.

X marks the spot!” Sophie said as she marked a big X on the tree on the map. The tree across the street was where the family would meet together if there was a fire in their house. “Now all we have to do is put out the clues and the treat parts.”

When it was time for Sophie and Zach to give the family home evening lesson, Zach held out a piece of paper and said, “This is a secret map to hidden treasure. No one else in the whole world has this map. Guard it well!”

“Now,” Sophie added, giving each one a red crayon and a blue crayon, “look on the back of the map, and you’ll find your first clue.”

Every room in our house needs two escape routes,

So mark them in red and blue.

Then go to the upstairs bedroom—

You’ll find the next clue there, too.

“Why do we need two escape routes?” their little sister, Jess, asked.

“The escape route in blue should be the safest, like through the door,” Sophie answered. “But if this route is blocked by the fire, you will need another way out, like through a window. You can draw that path with the red crayon.”

After planning their escape routes together, Jess ran up the stairs. “Hurry, hurry!” she called to Mom and Dad.

There was another clue attached to a can of nuts in the center of the bed:

Here is your next clue to the treasure today—

And part of our treats—so go on your way.

Now crawl through both routes that you drew on the paper.

And look through the window—how can it be safer?

A rope? A ladder? You decide,

Then meet in the bathroom on the left side.

“I never thought about having to escape from an upstairs window,” Mom said.

“There are ‘escape ladders’ that we can buy,” Zach said. “Or we could even use a simple rope, if there’s a strong place to tie it to.”

“Why do we have to crawl on the floor?” Jess asked.

“Smoke from the fire rises,” Sophie said. “So if you crawl near the floor, you won’t breathe in as much of it. Now, to the bathroom.”

Another clue was propped against a bottle of chocolate syrup on the sink:

Go to the window—

You’ll find something we lack.

Open it and imagine

Dad fitting through that crack!

Dad laughed. “I guess what we lack is a window that opens far enough for everyone to fit through.”

“Well,” Mom said, “we still can use it as an escape route. We just need to put a hammer or a big stick in one of the cabinets. That way someone could hold a towel in front of the window, then break it if there was ever a real emergency.”

“That sounds good,” Dad said. “We’d better check to see if we can get to and through all the other windows, too.”

The family went from room to room, with Jess pulling their hands to hurry them to the next sundae topping. Their last clue was in the kitchen, taped to the freezer:

If we are in different rooms

And a fire starts one night,

We’ll meet outside at the X

And never go back inside.

“Oh, so this is what the X on the map means,” Dad said. “It’s where we are to meet if there’s ever a fire.”

“Yes,” Sophie told them. “And remember to get out of the house as soon as possible. You can call the fire department from a neighbor’s house.”

Jess hurried them over to the X across the street. It was made from thick tape that easily pulled off the tree.

“Where’s the gold?” Jess asked, disappointed.

“There’s a note under the X,“ Mom said. “I’ll read it.”

You’ve found the X!

What? No secret treasure?

But there is something here

That riches can’t measure.

No, not the treats

Made of ice cream so cold,

But our safe, happy family—

Treasure greater than gold.

Like Sophie and Zach, you can teach your family what to do if there is a fire in your home. All homes are different, so your clues and “treasure map” will be a little different, too. The important part of the treasure hunt is to plan and walk through the best escape routes for your own home—and to have fun!

Photo by Craig Dimond