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Accinctus - Are You Ready (To Roll)?

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Friday, 12 September 2014 00:00

Are You Ready (To Roll)? Featured

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This week for National Preparedness Month I would like to focus on one aspect of family preparedness that I’ve had to deal with personally – home evacuation.  In the previous two years my home area in Colorado had to deal with back-to-back record setting wildfires, the Waldo Canyon Fire and the Black Forest Fire.  Before you think “I don’t have to worry about evacuations because I don’t live in a forest,” let me say I don’t live in the forest either.  I’m basically in a developed area mixed with a good amount of trees.  The majority of the homes lost in these fires were in traditional subdivisions.  Even if your wildfire risk is low, floods, chemical spills, aircraft accidents, hurricanes, and many other hazardous situations may require you to evacuate your home.  From my personal & professional experience, I would like to share a few tips to help you better prepare your family.

Don’t Assume Anything!  I have to admit that although I teach classes regarding preparedness for work and home and have completed quite a few actions to prepare my family, I hadn’t gotten around to some things I knew I should have before the first fire.  We had emergency supplies, a family checklist, and a plan of where to go all figured out.  I even had our (very tiny) camper all prepped and ready.  Collecting and scanning our critical paperwork - well, that’s my personal shortfall.  I assumed it was all in the fire-proof box and file cabinet.  Over time those documents are needed for other purposes and many don’t find their way back.  When we received the pre-evacuation warning during the Waldo Canyon fire, it became obvious that assuming those important documents were exactly where they should be was not correct.

 

Don’t Forget the Little Things!  After Waldo, I began correcting the shortfalls we noticed and made good progress.  Important documents were scanned and backups made.  Packing for the Black Forest Fire we noticed that we had forgotten about copies of non-critical but irreplaceable items like pictures or special artwork hanging on the walls (e.g.  kid’s 1st grade special artwork projects), old photos in albums, and pieces of paper like grandma’s hand written copies of family recipes.  Not critical, but certainly important memories we couldn’t replace and don’t want to lose.  

You’re Never 100% Ready!  The fact is you cannot be 100% ready for everything; life just doesn’t work that way!  However it is OK because every little thing you do to prepare your family makes a huge difference.  Our first experience to pack took us over a day and quite honestly we would have missed a lot if we actually had to evacuate (thankfully we didn’t).  The improvements we made between the two fires trimmed our packing time down to about 4 hours of fast moving work.  We actually finished getting everything together and ready to load and couldn’t believe we were done.  Any planning and preparation you do ahead reduces the stress and loss when you actually have to put those plans into action.  Don’t worry about being perfectly prepared, being a little prepared is better than not prepared at all.

One tool that is extremely helpful is a family evacuation checklist.  There are different versions available and some may work for you better than others, use the one that’s best for you – but make sure you use one.  If you don’t have a checklist already, I’m happy to provide one I’ve developed and use in my seminars; you can download the checklist from my website for free here.  One other tip for parents, give your kids (age appropriate) a job while you’re packing and get them involved in your family preparedness actions.  They can help out and it can reduce their anxiety because they don’t feel so helpless.  A companion children’s checklist is available here.  Please feel free to share with your family and friends.  

If you have any questions about the checklist or are interested in a preparedness seminar or training for a business, community group, church, etc. please contact me and I’ll be glad to explain how I can help.

Until next time, Be Aware – Be Prepared – Be Safe!

 


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