Preparing Your Family for Natural Disasters

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There's a fire burning almost out of control about twenty miles from us and another one started several mountains over. Fall is typically known as fire season here in California, although since the drought, every season seems to be fire season. It reminded of the importance of being prepared for a quick evacuation, which is something my husband and I have discussed in great detail. I used to think living in the middle of a populated area meant I was safe, but as many fires in California have recently shown, this is not the case.

1) Research

It's so important to know what natural disasters your area is known for, so definitely do your research. We used to live in an area where both earthquakes and fires were common - thankfully, we don't have to worry about earthquakes where we are in the Sierra Nevadas. I'm going to discuss our fire evacuation strategy today, but just know that your plan may look extremely different if you are preparing for a different emergency. Also, sign up for emergency calls and texts, especially if you live in a rural area like us. Hopefully, we would be notified of an evacuation in person but the houses are very spread out here and we also have a gate, so its important to me that we get all phone notifications as well.

2) Plan

I've broken our plan down into three different categories to help us prioritize what belongings to grab. 

  • Code Red: We need to leave in 5 minutes or less.

The very first thing I would do in each of these categories is put Jo in my Ergo Baby carrier. Even though it might make loading the car a little bit more awkward, the thought of being separated from my baby in a fire situation gives me literal daymares. Fires can be incredibly unpredictable and I want to be able to literally run at a moment's notice. Next, we would make sure the gate was open, grabbing our phones and file of important documents on our way out the door. If we had time after this, we would grab our other electronic devices, Jo's playyard, and make sure the chickens were let out. All our cats are outdoors now, so we don't have to worry about them. 

  • Code Yellow: We need to leave in 30-60 minutes.

After doing everything listed in Code Red, we would gather up some clothes, food, baby items, and camping equipment. I have bags in both our room and Jo's room for our clothes and I'm working on keeping our laundry put away or at least organized in hampers so we know where everything is. We would grab Jo's stroller, high chair, and old baby carseat. We've invested quite a bit in our camping equipment, so we would want to grab that; also, some food to keep us going for a while.

  • Code Green: We need to leave in several hours/voluntary evacuation.

This would be the most ideal of the three categories. In this case, the fire would be moving in our direction but would be no where near threatening us. The fire department would likely want us to evacuate to free up traffic but there would be no immediate danger. We would still definitely evacuate at this point. We would do everything listed in Code Yellow, but we would just pack as much of everything into our cars as we could, including our pets.

3) Communicate with your loved ones

If my husband is at work, I might have to do an evacuation like this alone. We've talked about where I would go in great detail, depending on which direction the fire was coming from. And in case the cell service went out, (which has happened in huge fires recently), he would know where to look for Jo and I.

Lord willing, nothing like this will ever, ever happen! But it's so important to be prepared so that if something does happen, you can minimize the impact of the loss just a little bit.

{Things you'll want to include in your Important Document File: social security cards, other forms of IDs, passports, birth and marriage certificates, insurance policies, business licenses, pink slips, vehicle registration, and perhaps a few important pictures. Backing up pictures on something like the iCloud or DropBox would be ideal and one less thing to worry about. You basically want to include anything that would be a pain-in-the-behind to replace.}

xo, Maegan