September is National Preparedness Month, which was started by the Department of Homeland Security. Their motto is Prepare, Plan, Stay Informed. Part of preparing is organizing your home and office — knowing where supplies are and making sure they’re consolidated and easy to grab in an emergency. The recent experience of Hurricane Harvey is a reminder of this.
What emergencies should we prepare for?
Natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards and earthquakes can force us to turn our homes into bunkers – or force us to live in shelters or on the road. But man-made disasters like chemical spills, acts of terrorism and car accidents that shut down roads can force us into the same situation. That’s why it’s important to be ready for any type of event.
For me personally, since our main emergency threat is wild fires, which means evacuation would be sudden, we keep our evac list hanging in the garage. It has items listed in order of importance for loading up. If we run out of time, the important items (pups and their leashes are at the top of the list!) are already in the car. My husband and I came up with the order ahead of time so that 1) we’re not forgetting anything while in freak-out mode and 2) we’re not losing time arguing about what’s more important when we need that time to grab stuff.
But how do you know what kind of emergency to plan for, or whether or not you’ll be on foot (or in a boat!), in a car, or sheltering in place? Being mobile would probably be the hardest to plan for because life would be more difficult if you have to carry everything that you need, so I recommend planning for that. If you end up being able to drive or shelter in place, you’d already have everything you need plus the bonus of a car or extra supplies if you’re in your house.
I recommend having your evacuation/emergency list in stages:
Part 1: walking (take these things)
Part 2: car (take Part 1 plus these things)
Part 3: shelter in place (Part 1 + Part 2 ready to go plus have these things in your home, ready to use)
Here’s the book that my husband used to help us put together our emergency kit:
It’s written by retired Navy Seal Clint Emerson. It might be totally over-the-top situation-wise for many people, but it makes you think about the possibilities. We picked out what would most likely apply to us, and that’s what we have in a large hiking backpack, ready to go.
To help you start to get ready during this National Preparedness Month, here are some questions to ask yourself:
*Where do you want to store your emergency list? If you only have 5-10 minutes to evacuate, you won’t have time to look around for that list. Digital? Paper? Both?
*Where do you want to store your emergency supplies? They should be located in only one or two spots so that they’re easy to grab.
*Are your first aid supplies in a tub or pouch that can be scooped up on the run?
*Are your important documents in one central location so that you don’t have to waste time hunting them down? Can they also be stored in a secure digital location?
*If Keanu Reeves (or your fave celebrity crush) gives you a plane ticket and an invitation to a gala this weekend in London, do you know where your passport is? (There are good emergencies, too!)
The important thing is to know where things are and be able to find them in no time.
I also highly recommend that you have a home inventory so that in the event of a disaster, you’ll know exactly what you own (or no longer own) and what the value of the items are. This can be done in electronic format and saved onto your computer hard drive (make sure to have a back-up system!) or saved via a service like HomeZada. For even more protection, consider having a company like Alamo Area Virtual Tours photograph and/or video your inventory for insurance purposes.
For important details and checklists, go to www.ready.gov.