Last week saw some dangerous situations across several states. First we read about the wildfires in Colorado leveling homes and several communities. Then a severe wind and rain storm that spanned from Indiana to much of the central east coast left a great amount of destruction in its path. Some families lost everything they owned. Others may have fared better, but were faced with losses due to power outages, downed trees and debris from the strong winds.
After the derecho blazed through my state late Friday night, I was dealing with no electrical power and an intense heat wave that seemed only to get hotter and hotter. One of my children was sick over the weekend too, so the intense heat and not being able to connect with the outside world caused more stress than usual. I lost all the special dietary and organic foods for my son when the power went out, as well as some patience.
Looking back on how worried I was for the three days we were left without electricity and the many of the comforts of everyday life, I know that I am ill prepared for an emergency lasting longer than 24 hours. Before I lost the power on my cell phone, I was able to send a message to extended family that we were okay and maintained an upbeat spirit, but I honestly was very worried. I had to quickly think about how we as a family were going to survive this unknown. Then I had to focus on how my son with his special needs was going to survive as well.
Before the damaging storms came through I was staying updated on the Colorado fires. A friend on Facebook who’d been in a similar situation began to post information on her wall about how to prepare for evacuations. As the fire grew bigger and bigger a friend added to the list of essentials our special needs families need to remember. I bookmarked the info thinking these were great ideas should our family go through something similar. Never did I think a similar situation would be barreling down my neighborhood a few hours later.
I already do some sort of preparing, but not on the grand scale I should. I restock an extra pantry we have with non-perishable items every three to four weeks. I buy an extra 24-pack of water bottles every two weeks. I have made copies of some important files, but I don’t store them in the folders they should go in. I am truly unprepared to survive a much larger and longer emergency. I need to create a plan before another rolls through my area.
Do you have different plan for different emergencies that may catch you off guard? (for weather, including an earthquake, tornado or flooding; the loss of power, or a house fire)
Do your people know that plan? (significant other, children, at least one helpful neighbor and one extended family member)
Do you have a meeting place? (your mailbox, a stop sign or a neighbor’s house)
Do you have an emergency contact list? (doctors in case your kiddo goes into medical distress, extended family, that helpful neighbor)
Do you have emergency supplies? (flashlight, batteries, bottled water, non-perishable foods, battery operated AM/FM radio, gas, change of clothes, diapering items)
Do you have of the 5Ps covered? (kudos to Vivian and Shannon for circulating this important information)
- Papers: birth certificates, social security cards, passports, marriage license, vehicle titles, current IEP, medical file, document with important phone numbers (insurance company, primary and specialty-care physicians, school, pharmacy, at least one neighbor and one extended family member)
- Pets: they need a safe place to go too! Think ahead of where you can bring them, or who can tend to them temporarily (and any pet documents you’d need to provide).
- Photos: take current pictures of your house, property and valuables for claims with your insurance company should they suffer a loss (include serial number in photo.)
- Prescriptions: all meds and supplements; be sure you have the pharmacy name and number to make refills.
- PCs: do you have a thumb drive, hard drive, laptop or more than needs to come with you? Consider electronics the kids needs (my son uses his iPad and an Alt Chat device—we’d need to keep those charged and also remember to bring the cords). Save space for these items as you pack.
The important papers and documents would then get stored in a folder (waterproof if possible) and put into a backpack. This backpack should stay in one place that can be at the ready if an emergency arises.
Further suggestions from Vivian and Shannon are to have a Grab-and-Go Bag. This is the kind of bag you would have ready if you can only get out with the clothes on your back.
- Cash and credit card
- Copies: copies of those important papers (see above) should the originals sustain damage
- Quick Lists: local pharmacy and doctor’s phone number, lists of regular medications
- Flash drive: specifically the medical records and any other pertinent papers that were not part of the 5Ps.
- Snacks: a day’s worth of non-perishable snacks (granola bars, fruit bars, dried fruit, and nuts and any allergen-free foods that will get you/your child through at least 24-hours)
- Bottled Water: at least 2 bottles that can be stored in a zip-lock bag to reduce chance of leakage
- Flashlight and Batteries: get a good flashlight and buy the good batteries!
I also thought about our escape route: do we have enough gas in the car to get out and get far enough away before having to refuel? Is the car stocked with an emergency kit and supplies? (blanket, sleeping bag, flashlight, batteries, water bottles, first aid kit). I also have to factor in how I would do this all on my own as my husband frequently travels. How would I scoop up my children and meet up with my husband so we can be safe as a family? Will I be able to contact him from a distance? I’m now making sure our cell phones are charged at all times and that maps (or GPS) are available should we have to leave quickly.
In an immediate emergency time is of the essence. How fast you are on your feet, and how quickly you can grab your “must haves” will certainly aid you. My advice is to start planning now. Make a list. Check it twice. Get the supplies you need before you truly need them. Plan for two to three days of an emergency, and if you have enough room, go ahead and plan for a full week to survive in your home or on the road.
If you’ve been in an emergency and literally had to leave with the clothes on your back, what advice can you give? If you had time to stop, think, grab and go, what did you bring? My advice for either situation is to start planning right now. Get yourself prepared for a “What If” situation just in case. And, go ahead and share your stories and other essential supplies in the comments so we can all be better prepared.
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