Fire, earthquake, flood. No one's immune (even Oprah's home was in danger of being consumed by fire this week). It could happen to you. It happened to friends of ours -- a recent fire forced them to evacuate from their home and they had less than ten minutes to do it. They got out with their pets and that was it. Luckily, their home was unharmed and they were able to return. After the jump, a plan to get you out safely, and with everything you love and need...
The key is preparation. In an emergency, we'll grab our computer, our knapsack, our purse, our portable file -- that's it -- and go. What about you? Take a few minutes to outline a plan today:
- Plan and Prepare: Knowing what to do is the first step. Think about it now. Do you have a meeting place with friends or family? An out of state friend or relative you can check in with? An idea of what you need to take with you? Good to have: a charger in the car with different adaptors (we like the IGo from RadioShack), emergency food (energy bars & water), a first aid kit. Keep your car's tank at least half full at all times.
- People and Pets - Have some cash, along with a change of clothes and a few basic necessities stashed in a bag you can grab and go. We keep one in the car and one by the front door. Don't forget: glasses, extra contact lenses, medications, tampax if necessary. Each member of the family should have their own pack. If you have children, keep a separate backpack for them. Include a few toys, games, crayons and paper, the double of a favorite book. Don't forget their favorite toy. Keep your pet's carrier ready to go with some food, a leash, medications, a chew toy.
- Papers - We keep our important papers (birth certificate, insurance papers, pink slip, passport), in a small lightweight portable file box so we can pick it up and take it with us in an emergency.
- Photos - We've started scanning all our non-digital photos onto our notebook computer. Our IPod stores all of our phone numbers, addresses and other important information.
- Practice - Keep a checklist by your front door. Review and update it regularly. Know how to get out of your house if your front entrance is blocked. Check that window escape latches & back door locks are in working order (because of earthquakes, our doors can be challenging to open so we're planning to shave them down so they work smoothly).
Have you ever been forced to evacuate your home? What did you learn that you can share with us?
[image: Al Seib for LA Times]