This summer brought a number of disasters from the Burro Fire in the Santa Catalina Mountains east of Tucson to the Tonto National Forest wildfires, and most recently the devastating hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico and earthquakes in Mexico. It’s made us take a step back and ask ourselves, “What would you take with you in case of disaster?” Many times evacuations take place in what feels like a moment’s notice – days, hours, or even minutes depending on how a fire or storm moves toward the neighborhood – and you’re forced to decide what is most important. Preparation before evacuation is key to getting you to safety and preserving what matters most to you.
Family, Friends, and Pets
When I think of what I would take from my home at a moment’s notice, it’s always my family, friends, and pets. The kids have backpacks from school or summer trips that are filled with a bottle of water, snacks, electronic devices, and maybe even a change of clothes. The dog sleeps in a kennel and his food and water are easy to reach and pack in the car. For the adults, we would grab each other, kids, pets, purses, wallets, and medication, and make our way to safety.
Bug Out Bag
With a bit more lead time you can pack what is called a Bug Out or Go Bag filled with essentials including dust mask, batteries, flashlights, drinking water, filtration system, snacks, pet kennel and food, shoes, socks, clothing, phone and device chargers, laptop, and sleeping bag.
- Plan one gallon of water per person and/or pet.
- Three days of easy to prepare foods like canned goods, granola and dried fruit, and protein bars.
- First aid kit and medication.
- Hygiene products including toothbrushes, toothpaste, and toilet paper.
- Duct tape – it can solve a whole myriad of problems.
For families with children, you can also have a lanyard prepared for each member of the family with a picture of the family, contact information of the parents, and the name and phone number of an out of state relative. If family members get separated it is a way for others to help get them back together.
Based on what we’ve heard about evacuations, we know our pets may not be able to stay with us but if they can, they likely need to be in a kennel and/or on a leash. Everyone is scared so if you can grab the kennel, it will be a familiar space for your nervous furry friend.
If Disaster Strikes
Many victims of these disasters have lost everything. Homes, cars, clothing, and paperwork can be replaced, but you and your family cannot. Get your family to safety first. If you have the presence of mind as you’re leaving your home, grab the big red binder and USB card of trust and estate documents from Kinghorn Heritage as well as your Docubank card so doctors can access healthcare documents if needed. If you can’t bring the whole binder with you, at least pull out the important documents (e.g., birth and marriage certificates, passports, social security cards) behind the Location Lists tab. While it’s not everything you would need to rebuild, it is a good start.
It’s tough to say what we would take in case of disaster, which is why we recommend planning and preparing for the worst. It’s better to take too much and head for safety than be paralyzed by fear when you need to evacuate.