So my interesting 2014 continues. Over the last 48 hours I have had the “pleasure” of being in a two story home and a wobbly four poster bed as a 4.7 earthquake made its way through my bedroom. And this morning as I woke up from a blissfully oblivious stupor of sleep to a phone call from my son’s school district informing me that due to the fire one of the schools would be closed due to the site being used as a command center. To which, in my half awake brain that had conveniently blocked out the morning’s commotion downstairs responded, “What fire?” Only to later discover that right out my front door was a massive thick wall of smoke and a short ways up the road, our foothills were on fire and rapidly burning. Thankfully we are safely out of the fire’s path but several of our friends are not. Its been interesting this morning between a barrage of Facebook blasts, news and what felt like a circus run information system regarding school closings and transportation for my son. In the course of 30 minutes I did a wild goose chase back and forth from his school with respect to misinformation on school closings…thank goodness I am a work at home mom.
However, this 48 hour period has prompted me to ask several questions. First the obvious question being, “And remind me why I live in Southern California?” I mean, we do have great weather. Where else can it be 80 degrees in January and your fellow states are enjoying snow storms. But it comes at a cost sometimes. Three years into a drought, we have barely had 2 inches of rain which makes our hills primed and ready to burn. In my 17 years of living in Southern California, I don’t think there has been a year where there has not been a fire like today’s. Add the nasty Santa Ana winds, which don’t play nice with your allergies, and you could have a huge fire that burn thousands upon thousands of acres, homes, structures, and sadly sometimes lives. I am always amazed at our firefighters and how prepared they are. When we run away, they run in. True amazement. Even tried to keep one once when I had a fire on my back hill during another fire season. Cute, fire prepared, strong, could easily carry me out of a burning building…but I digress.
And as I said we are having a drought…but rain can be just as problematic. Here for the little rain we get, we can flood easily, especially after a drought. Even though we need it, during certain times it can be just as much a problem as the dry weather. We even have rain that turns mud in to a natural disaster…every where else in the US that’s just an excuse to get out your four wheel drive and play. Mudslides are not fun.
Then there are the earthquakes. Tuesday mornings was the third we experienced in our new home in the last few months. At least when I lived on the east coast, while it was true I had to contend with hurricanes and tornados, at least they came with a warning. Not true with earthquakes. So why again do I live in Southern California…well…every where has their problems. Which brought me to my next several questions.
What would you would you grab if you were asked to evacuate? What should you grab?
And I am putting these things in an order of importance.
- Pets and Loved Ones. Okay, so kind of obvious but grab your pets and loved ones that may not be able to evacuate themselves.
- Emergency ad Family Binder. I will be doing a post series on this later this year but having a binder with copies of all important documents such as copies of insurance policies and/or contact information, identification documentation, credit card and bank account information, and more is critical. So is having all this information in a single location, where all you do is have to grab and go. If all the proper information is included in the binder, you should be able to recreate anything that may get burned. This binder should also contain a list of the things you would want to make sure you grab – such as personal memory items – if time permits and where they are located. I know when we are in crisis or emergency situations, our brains can go into panic mode. If you have a list, then you can go into auto pilot.
- Medications. You will need them, so grab them. If you can keep these in a centralized location so you can grab and go, that is awesome. If not, make sure you have a list of the exact medications you are taking along with the dosage and the doctor who prescribed them just in case you can’t get to them.
- Fire Proof Safe. First, you should have a fireproof safe, even if a small one that holds emergency cash, passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates and the like. Second, even though fire proof, you should grab it.
- Personal and Non-replaceable mementos. This can mean family photo albums or disks containing them. I personally keep my back up disks in my fireproof safe. It could also mean grandma’s quilt. Grandpa’s ring. If you have time and it fits and its important to you, grab it.
- Clothing and personal grooming items. If time permits, grab clothes, shampoo, toothbrush, etc. I have these last since of all the things in your home, these are truly the easiest replaced.
Are you emergency prepared?
Every area around the world has its own unique challenges with respect to natural disasters. Midwest has tornados. The east coast and south have hurricanes. The north has blizzards. Here on the west coast we have fires and earthquakes. Else where in the world there are volcanos, tsunamis, and more than I am sure I am aware. The question is are you prepared for what ever your local emergency is.
Do you have a plan?
What ever your emergency situation is, do you have a plan to deal with it? For example, here we have a large share of earthquakes and fires. Now mind you, most of our earthquakes cause little damage but we have those few that cause moderate to severe damage and force people from their homes. Fires, on the other hand, are much more prevalent in the foothills, especially during dry seasons. So being prepared with a plan is important. In both these cases, having an evacuation plan is important. Knowing where to go if you are evacuated. Knowing what to grab. Having various scenarios planned out such as what to do if no one is home, who will be responsible for grabbing what, who is to contact who if you are or are not home, where do you all meet, etc.
Do you have supplies?
If you have natural disasters in your area like an earthquake, having supplies is important as emergency personnel will most likely be tied up, the grocery store will probably be closed, utilities may not be functioning, etc. Having enough food, water, basic medical, pet goods, toilet paper, and similar to last you at least a month is highly recommended. Make sure you include batteries, flashlight and portable radio in this kit.
Do you know your city and state’s emergency plans?
These can make a huge difference in your personal plans. Many cities and states have plans in place such as evacuation centers, contact points, and more to help when there are emergency situations and natural disasters. Make sure you know them and include the important details in your emergency binder.
In the end as our day closes here in so cal, the fire is still burning and for me it serves as a reminder to make that extra effort to get our emergency plan in place. Running a little behind in getting that in place since we moved in. This fire serves as a huge reminder that emergencies happen when you least expect them, so be prepared.