Emergency Preparedness: Why It Matters and How to Stay Ahead of the Unexpected”
Understanding the importance of emergency preparedness is often overlooked until a crisis is looming. However, taking the time to develop an emergency plan can be invaluable. As we enter this time of year, it’s worth considering the “what if” scenarios and creating a concrete plan, hoping, of course, that it will never be needed.
While some may perceive my family’s preparedness efforts as excessive, we have found peace of mind in taking certain precautions. From having a readily accessible “go bag” in our car to maintaining emergency food storage and stocking a backpack with essential items like a flashlight, weather radio, granola bars, and water, we have made deliberate choices to ensure we are ready. We have even discussed establishing a designated check-in point during vacations to prevent separation anxiety. Despite any minor inconveniences, the sense of preparedness we have achieved far outweighs any perceived obsessions.
When our area had the massive outbreak of tornadoes during Memorial Weekend 2019, it was a flash back to the Xenia tornado in my mind. 2019 was worse – because it affected a wide range of our communities and had far more impact to our housing and roads and normal activities, for a much longer time due to then the onset of Covid.
Fires in California, massive snow storms across many states, now rain and flooding – it isn’t necessarily the apocalypse but it sure is enough to make a person a think “WHAT IF”.
Personally, I suffered a total loss of a home and know that there are some things you cannot plan for nor expect and it certainly can take time to re-build from a point zero position after such a loss. In the end, if all we loose is material “things” – then we can count ourselves among the lucky. I was blessed to have had friends and co-workers assist with their prayers and well wishes and clothing donations, with insurance to take care of other necessities. But I did take away from that experience a plan of action to at least try and be prepared or willing to plan when situations may present for action.
Here are just a few things that might help you 😉
Having a “go bag” is a great idea – I think of it as a what if I needed to make a quick run out of the home to another location – what would I need. Nothing big and bulky, but a quick change of clothes, important documents or small treasured things that might be nice to have (something that can “ground” you in an otherwise chaotic or challenging time). I have that bag packed and ready to grab – at times, I have kept this in the back of my vehicle as I maybe felt that was a step more proactive. If you have multiple family members in your care – this may mean multiple bags, so decide accordingly.
When you see pictures / video of tornado destruction – you might be struck by how “explosive” the scene looks, everything scattered and who knows if anything can actually be salvaged. I’ve thought about this and think that a good “attempt” to try and save some things may happen in a couple of ways: packing that luggage you have stashed in the garage – with actual clothes you might need, documents, keepsakes. I mean, they won’t take up any more room if they are filled with these things – so why not at least have a bag (or two or three) packed for the “what if”. Good to have your contact information inside of the bag, on the outside or with a luggage tag – in the hopes that if it is blown away (as a whole) that you stand a good chance of being able to claim / recover when found.
We all have important documents that we don’t want to carry around with us, but if we lost them – we’d have a hard time replacing them as quickly as they might be needed… If you have a water resistant pouch / bag that you can keep these documents in – placing them inside the dishwasher or refrigerator may help secure these from blowing away or burning in a fire. Now that of course means you at least are having a little heads up about a situation – but some of the household appliances seem to fair pretty well, at least by being intact – therefore some chance of these being protected. Of course, a fire safe / lock box is also well advised protocols.
Speaking of protocols – SCANNING any documents you have that can then be pulled from computer access or even your phone is a good thing to do. If you do not have the ability to “scan” documents, I am happy to provide this as a service for you, you can take them all on a zip drive and feel better prepared.
The other thing I learned (the hard way) was to have PICTURES / VIDOE of the household – of closets full of clothes, shoes and things; the drawers, the things you just won’t think about having accumulated – until potentially too late when you are trying to “make a list” after the fact. Having some record of inventory of things will help you to know what insurance claim to make, what items to look for and eventually those things that you may want to replace. (Also good to have on that zip drive with your documents)
Our hope is not to cause panic for anyone by talking about emergency preparedness – but to hopefully prompt you in advance of a potential loss to be better equipped for the situation. Really narrowing down those items that are most important to have on hand / secure in the event of gaining safety is a great first step.
Red Cross has additional information available here: redcross.org/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies