If you had less than 5 minutes to evacuate your home, what would you take with you?
I saw this headline this morning and was reminded of a very essential planning exercise that I, myself, have not fully executed, yet. The first and only time I had to think about what I would take with me in my short time to evacuate my home happened a few years ago. I had been home with the flu and it was around dinner time when I was watching a film in my pajamas and the building fire alarm sounded. This was the first time I had ever heard the alarm go off and the blaring timed well with my film so for a moment I was confused that it was actually real.
At work, we practice drills and I know exactly where to go and what to take with me. But, there in that moment, I was stumped. It was cold and rainy out, and I wasn’t dressed. Do I get dressed and head out? What if it’s a real emergency or fire? Do I have time to dress? What about all of my things, essential files, passport, cash, computers, backup drives, etc. Could I possibly dig all of these things up and bundle them and get out of the building straight away? Obviously the answer was no to everything.
There was no time to change clothes, dig up paperwork, grap computers or whatever. I searched for a reasonable pair of shoes and a coat, grabbed my work bag and purse and exited the building. Turned out the incident was real, though thankfully, not extreme. Down the hall from me, someone had torched their oven mitts causing a billow of smoke to accumulate and a heat sensor to pick up that there was a fire. The fire department neutrlized the situation before anything disasterous happened.
Outside, neighbors congregated and speculated on what had happened. Various people were in various stages of getting ready for the night (so I wasn’t the only one in my PJs) and the entire time I worried about all of the things I had left up there. Crossing my fingers that the situation wouldn’t be dire, I started the mental list of all of the things I thought I needed to protect for the future and how I can keep these items safe but readily accessible in case of an emergency.
First, I have a fireproof safe and there are essentials in there, but it’s best not to keep these kinds of things in your house. These can be better kept in a safety deposit box. But, let’s be realistic, how many of us have safety deposit boxes? I used to have one, but I don’t at the moment, which means I need to evaluate my current strategy. And, while I’m doing this, I’ll throw out my top 10 list for you to consider.
Top 10 list of things to grab in case of emergency (see eHow for more on how to prepare for an emergency)
1. Children (any child in the house, if you have more than 1 and they can’t run, shuffle or walk without assitance, then you better have a way to get all of them out safely and quickly)–applies to anyone human in the home
2. Pets (many people just can’t live without their pets so if #1 is taken care of, consider getting your pets out (preferably on their own) and only if you have time to evacuate (like an issued warning rather than an imminent and sudden threat).
3. If you have #1 and #2 taken care of and your home or surroundings are not under immediate threat, then you may consider grabbing the following things (I recommend creating an emergency pack with copies of some important documentation that can be easily grabbed or packed)
list of phone and account numbers for all your creditors, especially your insurance company
Important identifications/documentation (passports, birthcertificates, social security cards)
cash or extra credit cards
critical computer hardware/electronics like a laptop
pet food and pet medicines