Ready or Not #82: Fire

A couple of years ago, I talked to my dear friend in California about the fires that were consuming southern California.  My friend lives in Northern California, but a lot of her family, friends, and relatives live in southern California and I was worried about them.

She said that her sister was okay, but that her cousin’s house had burned down.  Her cousin had a trailer and they were able to haul a couple of loads of personal items away, but the majority of their possessions were consumed by the fire.  They are going to have to start over, from scratch, foundation and all.

Her sister, an avid runner, is afraid to go outside because ashes are falling everywhere and is covering the landscape.  They have to be careful when they go outside because the air quality is so bad.  For those lucky enough to have air purifiers in their homes, they have to change out the filters on a regular basis.  They will also need to check the air filters on their cars because they will get clogged quickly.  She said that she is going to have to start jumping rope in her house in order to get her exercise because it is going to be a while before the air quality is safe again and she can go outside.

She also said that the sports arena in Los Angeles is full of people looking for refuge and the news has stated that several LDS churches are housing people and I am sure that other churches and congregations are opening their doors also.  What a shame that so many people’s lives have been so affected by fire, some set accidentally and other set on purpose.  People have died, been injured and others have had their lives changed in ways that they would never have imagined – all because of a fire, a very big fire.

There was a family that lost all that they owned in a house fire in my neighborhood.  It was terrible.  Fortunately they all got out safely and no one was hurt, but they didn’t have rental insurance and they lost everything and like those in California, they will have to start over.

Whether the fire, or disaster, is big and involves the whole community or is smaller and involves just one family, it is still a disaster.  We can’t always avoid disasters, but we can make them more tolerable by planning ahead.  Check your insurance and make sure that it covers what you want it to cover.  This helps with peace of mind and will help you avoid despair and depression later on.

Make a list of what is most important to take with you if you have to evacuate. Then prioritize it.  Do you have a trailer? A truck? Or is the mini-hatchback your only option.  Remember, if the disaster is community wide you won’t have the option of borrowing your neighbor’s trailer – they will be using it and there will be nothing left to rent.

Time is also an element.  Would you have time to haul anything away with you or is it a grab-n-go situation.  Would you have a 72-hour kit ready to take?  I’ll bet that there are a lot of people in California right now that wish they had a toothbrush, a change of clothes and additional toiletries to help make life more tolerable until they are able to leave the shelters.  Many of the people on the news had nothing but what they are wearing; my heart ached for them.

Do you have pets?  Pets often get confused, anxious and afraid during disasters.  Many owners are distraught because their pests have run away in fear and unless they have a micro-chip in them or a tag to help identify them, they will probably never see their pets again.

Think about these things.  Plan for the worst and hope for the best.  I always try to find the good out of the bad and I would encourage you to use the misfortune of others to help you plan ahead.  You can’t change what has happened to them, but you can look at what difficulties they are going through during their disaster and see what you can do to plan ahead to meet those challenges – that hopefully you won’t have to ever face.  Think about it.

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