With the series of storms that are in the area, I thought I would get back to my set of disaster preparedness articles. Since the first part looked at the articles tips on collecting and storing personal information for potential disasters, I wanted to look at being physically prepared for leaving your home quickly. Here again are the newspaper article’s tips that have to do with this.
Tip 3: Place a plastic garbage bag under your bed containing, shoes, socks, work gloves, and a flashlight with batteries (or light sticks). If you wish to include a pair of jeans and sweatshirt, that’s always a good idea in case you have to leave your house quickly. Some folks tie them to the leg of their bed so it doesn’t get misplaced.
Tip 7: Purchase a manual can opener on your next visit to the store.
Tip 11: Locate your utility shut-off valves and review the instructions for turning them off. Affix a shut-off tool nearby.
Tip 14: Take digital photos of every room in your house. Make a video if you have the capability and spend five minutes in every room. This will facilitate any after the fact insurance claims.
Tip 16: Add $1 per week ($5 if you can afford it) to your emergency cash fund. Remember ATMS and credit card systems will be useless if the power grid goes down.
Tip 17: Make digital copies of your important documents and store them on a flash drive.
Tip 18: Make a backup copy of the data on your hard drive and store at a friend’s house or a safe deposit box.
Tip 23: Practice starting a fire using dryer lint or a cotton ball tinged with petroleum jelly using a flint and steel.
I know this is a lot to take in but it’s not as daunting as it sounds. I don’t have as much of this together as I should. I am making progress however. I think that preparedness is something to keep striving for just like self-sufficiency. You don’t have to have everything done at once but every little thing you do puts you a little closer. In the long run, organization is your friend in a disaster. Look around your house. If you had to leave right now, what would you have to do? How quick could you get you and your family out?
Have a standard place you keep the items on your last minute list so you always know where they are and can get them quickly if you need to. Don’t’ waste time when it is the most essential. Also make sure you have easy to pack foods on hand for everyone. If you make sure these things are readily available, you can easily throw them in a bag and load the car. (I will get into multiple evacuation plans at another time.) This will also provide you more time to make sure your house is ready to leave.
There are several things you will want to consider to prepare for having to leave your house. If you aren’t worried about what to pack and take with you, you are more ready to go shut off gas valves and other things around the house. Have a set plan for closing up your house and turning off and unplugging what you are able to. If you have a safe, be sure to keep what is valuable to you that you can’t carry with you in it. Invest in a fire safe so you don’t have to worry about fire or people getting to it. I keep a backup copy of our photos in our safe and I make sure that, anytime I am not adding anything to it, it is in the safe and not just lying around in case we had to leave. Have a list of things to put in the safe if you have to leave to remind yourself and know where they are. Be tidy and efficient.
The good thing about these tips is that they are things that everyone can do. With having a family, I look at it slightly differently. For instance, I have two emergency suitcases. In one is packed clothes for me, a few things for Savannah, and room for last minute items. The second is a smaller case, which carries toiletries, first aid items, and emergency items such as matches, a portable weather radio, and a manual can opener. I keep Savannah’s car seat and a fully stocked diaper bag in the car. I want to build good emergency/first aid kit for the car but just have a few things in it at the moment. This is considerably more than that suggested in tip 3. However, anyone who has a child knows that you usually end up needing more than what most people would.
I have seen a lot of family plans for when children are older that look really good. They have suggestions for a list of tasks for your child to be ready to complete. This gives them structure and assurance while allowing them to help you. It is important for children to not feel helpless in these situations. If they are busy being helpful, they won’t have as much time to dwell on any fear and distress they are experiencing. I am already looking into these for when Savannah gets bigger. It is really best if every member of the family has a list of things to do in the event of an evacuation. This will allow everything to be done quickly and efficiently.
As for the last tip of practicing with starting a fire, this is a great idea! I would also add to take multiple ways to start a fire in case one doesn’t work. Don’t rely on just one method. I like to have the option of a lighter, matches, waterproof matches, or a flint and steel. Also remember that a small pack of crayons don’t take up much room and can be very helpful. One crayon is supposed to be able to burn for 30 minutes as a candle. I think it would also be helpful for catching kindling in fire because it doesn’t burn as fast as a match, but I haven’t tried this yet.
I hope this has been helpful. Don’t wait for something to happen to realize you should have planned for an evacuation. These are just a few things to consider. Do your own research and don’t rely on others to provide information or support in the event of an evacuation.