“There’s no harm in hoping for the best as long as you’re prepared for the worst.”
― Stephen King, Different Seasons
The war in Ukraine and natural disasters in our own country are stark reminders of how quickly unexpected and uncontrollable events around us can change the lives of many.
We are lucky enough not to deal with war on our own soil today. But hurricanes, tornados, and wildfires are increasingly common and can be both personally and financially devastating. In fact, the U.S. has sustained 310 weather and climate disasters since 1980 where overall damages/costs reached or exceeded $1 billion. The total cost of these 310 events exceeds $2.155 trillion. In 2020, California’s wildfires alone destroyed over 10,000 structures and resulted in over $12 billion in damage.
Safety is the ultimate priority in these situations. But even with technology at our disposal to help warn and prepare us, sometimes there is only a matter of days or even hours to react, take cover, or evacuate.
Luckily, there are some relatively easy steps you can take today to prepare if you need to seek safety in the future.
The Evacuation Checklist
Below is a checklist of to-dos for both yourself and anyone else who lives in your household (this should include spouses, partners, children, elderly, and pets in your care):
Establish a “Grab-and-Go” Bag: First, set aside an emergency bag or backpack that contains bottled water, non-perishable food, important medications, and a first aid kit. You may also want to add in an emergency tool kit. This will be your bag to pack further with additional items below, as time allows.
Protect Important Paper Documents: Second, keep the following original documents in a plastic, waterproof case or sleeve that you can easily slide into your grab-and-go bag. Until an emergency arises, it is advisable to keep these documents stored and periodically updated in a fireproof and waterproof safe in your house to protect them on a day-to-day basis:
Securely Digitize and Backup: Third, keep digital copies of important documentation elsewhere in case they are needed in an emergency or if the originals above are lost or damaged during the emergency:
Gather Other Non-Paper Items (if you have time): Finally, if you have additional time to prepare for an evacuation, these are other items you should bring with you or pack in your grab-and-go bag or secondary luggage:
Stay Optimistic, Be Prepared
No one is ever completely ready for disaster to strike. But like Stephen King implies, perhaps we can enjoy life more today if we feel more confident that we are as prepared as we can be for potential uncertainty tomorrow.
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