What To Do Before Disaster Strikes

Have a “To-Go Kit” Immediately Ready

If you’re anything like me, I do enjoy the privilege of being well-organized.  It may include having all your clothes arranged in the closet, your kitchen wares neatly arranged in cupboards and drawers, all my tools on a peg board in the garage, and the thought of having a preparedness kit tailored and ready to go at a moment’s notice should some sort of disaster occur either with or without advanced notice.

Recently, here in southern California, we had a devastating fire that destroyed over 30,000 acres called the Apple fire.  It raged for over 10 days before the fire crews were able to get it under control.  But during those hours and days, many people were forced to evacuate due to the sheer force and unpredictability of the fire.  Depending on the cause of this fire, it could be deemed a natural disaster or man-made, regardless, according to FEMA, people are forced to leave their homes hundreds of times a year because of transport and industrial accidents, in which Mother Nature was not involved.

Regardless of the situation, know your surroundings and expect the unexpected:  hurricanes, tornadoes, rampaging flood waters, wildfires, earthquakes, train derailments, industrial contamination or pollution, just to name a few.  With all this as a backdrop, It is vitally important that we Boomers and seniors of all ages be prepared for the inevitability of at least one evacuation during our lifetime.  

My BoomerGuy and I have been through several over the years beginning with the earthquake in San Francisco in 1989, followed by torrential flooding in St. Louis, hurricane Charley in Florida and two successive evacuations in southern California due to wildfires.  Yeah, I know, don’t follow us around.  Nonetheless, we had the foresight to have a survival kit ready to go for the “just-in-case” event that could change our lives forever.

In my opinion there are several factors that you should consider:

  1. A To-Go Kit that has your personal and family papers and documents;
  2. A Basic Disaster Supplies Kit;
  3. A checklist of things to do at your home before leaving; and 
  4. A Family Emergency Communications Plan.

To enumerate everything in all four categories would be overwhelming for this blog.  So today, we are going to focus on numbers 1 and 2, and I will follow next week with a blog on what to include in your numbers 3 and 4.

Your To-Go Kit is more like a Grab and Go Kit and should include the following items in a water-proof case or file:

  • A copy of your driver’s license,
  • Passports,
  • Medical records,
  • Proof of Home Insurance,
  • Pertinent legal documents such as trusts and deed to your home,
  • Home inventory list with photos, 
  • Your laptop and desk top computer,
  • Cell phones with chargers,
  • Social security information, 
  • Sunglasses, eyeglasses and extra contact lenses, 
  • Prescription medications—enough for at least one week, 
  • Cash and credit cards, and
  • A working list of primary contacts that may or may not be on your cell phone or computer.
Cash is still king, so don’t forget to bring along an ample supply.

Your Basic Supplies Kit should include the following:

  • Water,
  • Food in non-perishable containers along with can opener and utensils,
  • Flashlight with extra batteries,
  • Whistle,
  • Dust masks—not a problem during COVID-19 since we’re used to wearing masks,
  • First aid kit,
  • Toilet paper and moist tissues for personal sanitation,
  • Note pad with pen or pencil,
  • One change of clothing and an extra pair of shoes,
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape for sheltering, 
  • Special needs supplies for seniors such as a cane, hearing aids and batteries, etc.,
  • Pet food and supplies, and
  • Know where your keys are for locking the house and your automobile(s).  

While it may seem that this is a formidable amount of material to have at the ready, it really isn’t.  Most everything on the above two lists can be stored in place and ready to go in an instant, except for perhaps your computers, cell phones, and keys.  One thing you will need to do is update the contents occasionally—rotate the water, change out the canned goods, include newly dated documents, etc.

Ah, my once-was suitcase in Hawaii. Now it’s been repurposed as my “Go To Bag”

VERY SMART! Rather than going out to your local discount shopping mart or perusing Amazon for endless ideas, I “repurposed” an old suitcase that I no longer use as my To-Go Kit and Supplies Kit.  It has wheels and an extendable handle for easy maneuverability, because at our age it’s not always easy to lift, but we can still drag, and is a unique color that is recognizable and can be grabbed out of the closet in an instant.  It has the essentials and can travel with me down the street in an instant should I be unable to access my automobiles.  Also, you may wish to have a separate smaller bag for your pet supplies.  Oh, and don’t forget your pets.

All this being said, you can also have these essentials sitting in your garage ready to be placed into your car, or actually have them boxed and stored in the trunk.  Obviously, the assumption here is that you have the time to exit with your automobile intact.  

The key is to stay informed.  Use a Weather Radio or cell phone to stay in contact.  Hurricanes will seemingly give you a bit of advanced notice, but the other disasters may not and you must be prepared to exit by demand if need be.  

Please stay informed by reading our next blog having to do with the next in series for your Emergency Checklist and Family Communications Plan.  

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