The recent flooding in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas has been on my mind as we have seen the destruction left behind. It has also started me thinking about what each of us can do to make sure that if a flood or any other natural disaster comes we will survive with minimal expense and disruption to our lives. Whether it’s a flood, a wildfire or an earthquake, make sure you are ready to evacuate if necessary.
If you have to evacuate, remember the five Ps of evacuation – people, prescriptions, papers, personal needs and priceless items.
People are the most important factor to consider. Make a family disaster plan so everyone will know where to check in when a disaster occurs. Experts say to have a distant place or phone that everyone can call in case of an emergency. When an emergency occurs, local phone traffic may be limited and it may be easier to reach someone far away. Make sure that everyone in the family knows whom to call, and remember that even when the signal isn’t strong enough for a cell phone call to go through, it may be possible to text. Make sure everyone knows whom to contact and what that number is.
Prescriptions are also important. Make sure you don’t forget your medicine when you evacuate. Leaving your medicine behind may place your health at risk at a time you can least afford it, and you might have difficulties getting medicines replaced. Prescriptions should be organized and easy to grab in case of an evacuation.
Important legal papers will be needed, so make sure yours are handy. Birth certificates, car registrations, health insurance cards, proof of insurance and social security cards can all be replaced, but it takes time. Make sure yours are in an easy-to-reach file that you can grab as you evacuate. Some people keep their important papers in a portable file box. If you keep yours in a file cabinet or certain drawer in the desk, make sure they are in the same file so you don’t have to rifle through lots of paperwork as you head out the door. Phone numbers and policies of insurance companies will be extremely important in case you have to file a claim after the emergency.
Personal needs items make you comfortable. Clean clothes or a toothbrush can make you feel at home even if you are in a shelter. Take a child’s favorite toy or your favorite pillow if it brings you comfort.
What is it that you would miss most if it were no longer there? Daddy’s guns or momma’s watch may not mean much for your ultimate survival, but heritage is important to many of us. I’m not saying you should risk life and limb to load grandmother’s furniture, but easily carried keepsakes can be put in the car as you evacuate. Think about those priceless items that would be impossible to replace and take them with you.
For many of us the 6th P in this list should be our pets. With the number of wildfires that are going on in Alaska right now, it is important that we also plan to evacuate with our pets. Next week check us for information on how to ensure the health and safety of your pets as you evacuate.
The bottom line is to evacuate when you are told to go. Don’t risk your life or your family’s by figuring you can tough it out. As soon as you are alerted to the possibility of evacuation, start gathering important items and get them ready to go. When the order comes, you will be ready to move out. The order to evacuate is not given lightly, so follow the instructions of emergency personnel. Your survival may depend on it.
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