09 April 2011

Preparedness Challenge

This week for the preparedness challenge at Homestead Revival, I…

Evacuated! Seriously!

We have had hot, dry and windy weather the last couple of weeks, which is a perfect recipe for wildfire. The acre we live on is in a neighborhood on the far edge of the city, largely surrounded by great swaths of fields and groves of trees covered in bramble.

Smoke drifting aross the sky

With fire threatening about a mile and a half northwest of us, we made the decision to pack up and head out. Because the wind was driving the fire straight east, we were fairly certain our house would be okay, but since the fire department was recommending evacuation and you can never predict which way the wind will shift or where a new hot spot will flare up, we thought it would be better to be safe than sorry.

Thankfully, our house and property was fine. Not everyone was so fortunate, however. Several houses and outbuildings succumbed to the flames, as did acres of land that cows, horses, goats and many other animals depend on for pasture. There were no lost lives, however, which was such a blessing! Police and fire crews worked for hours and hours battling the blaze. I could not IMAGINE walking into that inferno, yet they did it willingly to protect the community. They are truly heroes.
These pictures were taken as we left our neighborhood - thankfully, firefighters were able to save this home

Here’s what I learned for my family: We are not NEARLY as prepared to leave in a hurry as we should be! I knew we should be grabbing things and getting out of there, but I was so scattered that we stayed much longer than we should have. I was missing one VERY important item….. a list!

Now, posted by the front door is the following list of what to grab, assuming there’s time. If there’s not time (for example, if your house has caught fire unexpectedly) the most important thing to do is get the family to safety!

Last Minute List:
Kids & People
Dog (with tags!)
Diaper Bag (don’t forget the security blankets or stuffed animals!)
Wallet & Purse
Phone & Charger (I keep mine in my purse, and a charger in the car would work too!)
GOODY “Get Out Of Dodge, Y’all!” Bags (including clothes, shoes, toiletries, and snacks)
Vital & Medical Records Binder
Pictures (I keep the albums in cloth grocery sacks in the living room cabinet)
External hard drive or flash drives
Family Bible
Old Family Recipes (1 binder & 1 notebook)
Computer CPU

Even though we eventually left the house without forgetting any of the items (except the CPU- like I said, we were pretty sure it would be okay and I had just recently stored all of our digital pictures on the external hard drive anyway), it took us WAY too long! I found much room for improvement- for example, I need to get my act together and finish scanning our pictures into the computer. Even though I already have the albums in bags ready to grab, there were way too many, they were too heavy and it would not be easy to grab them if we had to leave in two minutes or less. It would be heartbreaking to lose the originals, but if I get them scanned then at least the pictures would be preserved! My preference would be to save the scanned images on an external hard drive or on flash drives which would then be stored at our bank safety deposit box (I try to do this routinely with our digital pictures also). The same goes for vital records and recipes. You could also upload pictures to an online service- many of them offer free accounts. A digital and/or hard copy stored in an off-site location means that you don’t have to give that stuff a second thought while fleeing for your life!

As for the wallet, keys, purse, phones, diaper bags etc., we try to make it a habit to put these things in the same place every day (such as a coat rack or shelf by the door) so that we don’t waste time looking for them. I am still compiling our GOODY bags, and those will go in the front coat closet.

Not only is the threat for wildfire ongoing, but tornado season is also looming! More than once we have fled our home when severe weather was upon us. I fully recommend an practicing an evacuation drill with your family. Make a plan, try it out, and time it! You might be surprised how long it takes to grab everything you are planning on taking. If you do your drill when you are planning on leaving the house anyway, it won’t seem like such a hassle. Trust me, it is much better to work out the kinks now than when a life and death situation is threatening.

What do you think? What am I forgetting on my list?


  1. So glad your family is safe and your community had no loss of life! I think that's a good list. I always have my kids grab a blanket and pillow, as you don't know when you'll get to come back or how long the drive will be to a safe location. Of course, that's only if there's time. We need to have a drill soon, as it's fire season here as well.

  2. So glad to know everyone was okay! This is really a frightening situation. More than once my home (not my current home) has been threatened with fire and I know that feeling. We actually had a home burn almost to the ground when I was a little girl.

    I was just reviewing some of these things on your list this weekend as I was looking into BOB bags. I like the term GOOD Bags, too. Hopefully I'll get that post up before tonight!
    Thanks for linking up!

  3. Glad you and your family are okay- those pictures are frightening!! Love your acronym for the GOODY bags- that is great! This is the area I need to work on this week- an evacuation plan. Thanks for your post- those pictures make for a very good reminder to be prepared.