Ready or Not #260:Be Prepared and Be Safe

I had a nice note sent to me by a friend/reader the other day.  Because her family lived near a raging uncontrolled fire that was racing towards her town, her family was involved in the, at first voluntary, and then mandatory, evacuation of her town this last weekend.

A few years back I had written about getting all of your family’s important documents gathered together and making a family plan in case there was ever a disaster or mandatory evacuation.  She wrote and asked me what a family plan was.  She had not grown up in a house where the mother was hyper-vigilant about making sure that everyone was prepared – all of the time (like me).

I figured that she wasn’t the only person out there that didn’t know all of the questions that needed to be asked about preparing to move your family out of harm’s way in a hurry.  So I wrote some articles discussing potential emergency situations and how to make a family plan and how to gather all of your important paperwork together.  I also created worksheets to help you create emergency contact lists and document any medical need

Well, after she read the articles she just didn’t sit around and think, “Hmmm, I should do that someday!”  Nope, she went out and did it.  She and her family created a family plan and she gathered her important documents and information together and put them all into one easy-to-carry container that protected everything.  I am so HAPPY!

She recently wrote and told me that, “I just want to thank you.  A couple of years ago one of your articles inspired me to get all of my important documents together in one place.  I had all of those documents in an accordion file along with my hard drive and pictures in one plastic bin.  I was away from my home when we had voluntary evacuations in my subdivision over the weekend.  However, I very easily told my son, Dominic, where the bin was located and then we were good to go.

So thanks Dawn!  You made my life easier. J

So, have you gathered your information together yet?  You never know when you might be forced to leave your home – and fast.

As I was watching the news reports about the fire and the evacuations, I wondered if anyone was grabbing their 72-hour kits.  News reporters were talking to some of the evacuees and it was really interesting what people were hauling out of their houses.  One little girl made two trips to the house for all of her dolls and stuffed animals.  That isn’t a bad thing because all of those toys will give her a source of strength and security, but I never did see her grab a backpack full of survival stuff (water, food, hygiene supplies) to help her during her time of need – which could have been for an extended period of time.  Children need to be responsible for their evacuation needs.  Help them fill their backpack and be prepared right along with you.

Another family was pulling stuffed ducks off the wall.  That kind of made me chuckle.  But those ducks were very important to the homeowner and those particular ducks were irreplaceable.  He had shot them and had paid a taxidermist to mount his ducks.  I say take them, right after you have taken all of your important papers and documents.

Another family said that they had grabbed important papers and all of their computer hard drives.  Not the computers, but just the hard drives.  That is brilliant because it saves space.  Myself, I would have to take the whole computer because I don’t know what a hard drive looks like, let alone how to take it out.

Another woman that was interviewed was almost frantic because it was all so overwhelming and she just didn’t know what to take!  She was just grabbing random stuff and I can tell you that after she left and later when she started to inventory the items she had grabbed, she will find that most of the items would be useless to her during the emergency.  So frustrating!  If she had put a little thought into what she needed to do and if she had made a family plan and considered her options before the disaster, then she would have fared much better – physically and emotionally.

Right now there are several very large fires burning throughout Utah and a couple of them have completely burned down several homes.  My heart goes out to those who have lost their homes.  I personally know several people that were evacuated in the Saratoga Springs fire.  One of the people that I know decided that he was going to stay with his house and ignore the evacuation orders.  He wanted to protect his house from theft or vandalism if the fire didn’t get it.  Really?

That made me a little mad.  He was potentially risking his life and the lives of the fireman that would have to try to save him because of “stuff”.  Important, valuable stuff, but still – just stuff.  “Things” can be replaced, people can’t.  And if you have prepared ahead of time by inventorying your stuff, then you will have the documentation you need for the insurance company – whether the damage is caused by fire, theft, or vandalism.

Leave the house.  Take your 72-hour kits, your important papers, your ducks and dolls, but get somewhere safe.  Everything can be replaced EXCEPT you!

Staying safe and feeling safe, that is why we prepare.

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