Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Emergency Planning

I know, ever since the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, it seems like everybody is talking about emergency preparedness.  How many of us would be ready to evacuate our homes if a natural disaster occurred in our backyard?

Well, my family has been thinking about emergency preparedness as well, and we had a little wake-up call last night that has inspired me to get serious about getting organized.

In our part of Colorado, we don't have many natural disasters to worry about: tornadoes are extremely rare and short-lived up here (but they do exist!) and we are miles away from the nearest source of flash-flooding.  Our biggies are blizzards in the winter and freak hail storms in the summer.  Oh yes, and wildfires.

Our neighborhood has been evacuated in the last 10 years due to wildfire danger.  And this summer is not looking good for fire risk.  It's only March, and half the state is already on fire ban.  Couple that with the high winds that have been blasting the state the last few days, and it's easy to understand why there are already 3 wildfires in the state.

With the winds howling outside, and the weatherman on TV describing the 15% contained fire west of Denver, we were discussing our apprehensions for the summer (the "official" wildfire season).  Then my husband ran an errand in town, and came back to report that the local Volunteer Fire Department appeared to be mobilizing.  The parking lot was packed, and people were gathering.

"There must be a new fire nearby," we thought.  Our little fire department wouldn't be mobilizing for the fire far away in Golden.

Suddenly, having a well-stocked pantry didn't seem very relevant.  Would we be able to grab every important earthly possession, pack it all in the car, and get out of there immediately if we needed to evacuate?  After thinking for a few minutes, I was confident that we'd be okay, although not particularly organized.  We left the phone on its highest volume on the nightstand, just in case we had a reverse 911 call during the night, and tried not to listen to the wind as we headed for bed.

About 10 minutes later, I remembered - our Fire Department has their weekly meeting on Monday nights.  No fireballs were heading toward our house.

The whole incident really got me thinking, though.  Sometimes in the world of "preparing" we are so excited to jump into the exciting world of water filters, number 10 cans, and mylar bags, that we skip a few steps at the beginning... like what would I do if I couldn't hunker down at my house indefinitely?  Where would we go?  How would we get there?  Do I know where all my family's important documents and mementos are?  Are my valuable non-relocatable possessions insured in case of fire?

I don't know about you, but even if I never have to evacuate my home, I would benefit everyday from being a little bit more organized in my paperwork and necessities.  Given the little scare last night, I'm sure motivated to do a little housekeeping in this area.

What do you think?  Have you been thinking at all about emergency preparedness, especially since the disasters in Japan occurred?  Sometimes I think, "If I just don't think about it, I won't have to worry about it...I'll never need to leave my home in a hurry."  But the peace of mind of having my house in order is so worth a little bit of time spent to get it that way.

Posted at Works for me Wednesday at We are that Family

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