"We are not measured by the trials we meet -- only by those we overcome."
- - Spencer W. Kimball
October 21, 2015
Ready in Thirty Days: Evacuate Now
by Carolyn Nicolaysen

With the horrific fires in California I have been reminded how important it is to prepare ahead of time to evacuate at a moment’s notice.

This past month a friend had a firefighter knock on her door and tell her she had five minutes to leave her home. He then pointed to the fire cresting just behind her home. She had no idea what to grab, so she left home with her important documents and little else.

She was fortunate because the firefighters made their stand at her home and the home and those around were among the few saved; more than 1,000 were lost. With this in mind I have reworked a calendar for preparing in November. If you have already accomplished these tasks, please share this link with friends and family and offer to help them this month.

It’s time to check your preparations to discover just how prepared you really are. If you have not already done so, determine who your out of area contact person will be, making sure they are willing. This person is your lifeline during and after a crisis.

Including your children in your preparations will help them feel empowered and focused when the need to evacuate comes. Make November your evacuation preparedness month.

Sunday November 1st

Gather your family and let each member create a list of items they feel are important to take as they evacuate. Be sure to discuss beforehand the difference between items they need or want and those that are truly irreplaceable. Prioritize the list, remembering to include items from all family members.

Monday November 2nd

Create a blank “Evacuation Priorities” chart. Do not fill in the blanks; we will do that in the next few days. At the top of column one write, “Items to be Collected.” At the top of column two, “Location of Item.” Column three, Family Member Responsible.” Column four, Items placed in the Car.”

Now that your family has had a chance to think about items they would take when evacuating, add those items you brainstormed last night. List in order of priority. Next decide as a family who will be responsible to collect each item and to place them in the car during an evacuation. Place the items and name of the responsible party in the appropriate spaces on your chart.

Tuesday November 3rd

Evaluate your preparations to care for your pets.

  1. Have you assembled Emergency kits (remember 72 hours is not enough) for your pets? These should include: water, food, medications, up-to-date vaccination record and other medical records, collar, toys, food and water dishes, and sanitation disposal bags.

  2. Be sure you have someone who will care for your pets, outside of your immediate neighborhood, if you need to leave your home and cannot take them to your evacuation location.

  3. Make a list of foods and medications you need for a one-month supply for each pet.

  4. Make a list of items you need to gather or purchase.

Wednesday November 4th

Place flashlights and/or glow sticks by every bed for use in the event of a nighttime emergency. We have plenty of candles, flashlights and glow sticks in our home, but after fumbling in the dark to find them during a power outage I decided we would keep glow sticks in every room in our home, hung on every door knob. Sure enough, next outage I knew exactly where to find light.

Yes, an evacuation may happen when the power has already gone out.

Thursday November 5th

Gather items on your evacuation priority list. Place items together in a few locations around the house. All of a child’s important items could be in one box in his closet where he still has access to play with or use them. The family photos, important documents, and 72-hour kits could all be together in a closet close to the garage door.

Friday November 6th

Now that you have stored your items to be collected, add the location of items to collect to your evacuation chart.

Saturday November 7th

Make a copy of your evacuation chart and place it on a cupboard door or in some other easily accessible location. When it becomes necessary for you to evacuate, your chart will be easy to grab quickly so each family member can complete his or her tasks. You may want to post this chart in more than one location, just in case.

Sunday November 8th

Teach all family members when it is appropriate to call 911 and practice various scenarios until they feel comfortable with the questions they will be asked. Review the Nauvoo Times article Do You Know When To Call 911?

Monday November 9th

Play What If

What if you were not at home when _____________________ happened? (Fill in the blank with the emergency most likely to occur in your area). Ask each family member, including the adults what they would do.

  • What if you were at a friend’s home?

  • What if you were at work?

  • What if you were at school?

  • What if you were shopping?

  • What if you were home but mom and dad weren't?

This will give you the opportunity to make sure your family knows who to call or — in the case of adults and teens — where your meeting place will be.

Tuesday November 10th

Place an extra set of important keys in adult Emergency Kits, safe deposit box, at work, next to your bed, and with a neighbor. Keys should include all cars, homes, homes of those you have promised to help evacuate, offices, recreational vehicles, mailboxes, safe deposit boxes, and storage sheds. Place your keys at the top of your kit where they can be easily grabbed if you only have minutes to evacuate.

Wednesday November 11th

Go to the bank and get cash to place in all 72-hour kits. Now you are ready to evacuate and pay for needed items along the way to your evacuation destination. All bills should be small, $1, $5, $10, and maybe a $20 or two but mostly small bills.

During a crisis change may not be available and you could end up paying more than you need to if you are caught without small denomination bills.

Thursday November 12th

Check out the location of emergency shelters in your area. You can call city hall, the police department or fire department for help with this. If you have pets, be sure to ask if the shelter will accept pets. If your city does not have a plan for shelters maybe you need to attend a city counsel meeting and ask why.

Friday November 13th

Gather or purchase the items on your “pet needs” list and place them in a pet emergency kit. Be sure to list this on your evacuation chart so you are sure to grab it when the time comes.

Saturday November 14th

Check out which radio stations participate in the emergency broadcast system in your area. Be sure to check both AM and FM stations in the event one is not able to broadcast. Also, compile a list of the contact info for anyone who is a licensed HAM radio operator. They often have more correct information than media sources.

Sunday November 15th

Make a list of handicapped or elderly neighbors, friends, ward members, and family members who may need help in an emergency. Post their phone numbers and enter them into your cell phone contact list. During an emergency, call them to inform them of the possibility an evacuation may be required. As you evacuate, call again to be sure they can get out.

Monday November 16th

Meet with another family tonight for Family Home Evening and take turns taking photos of the other's family. Take photos of individual family members and a group photo, which includes all family members. Remember, pets are family members too.

These photos will help if you are separated and need to post a photo or claim a family member. Your group photo will help to prove you are the parent, sibling, or child, of a “misplaced” family member. Individual photos can be used to give to first responders or to post on message boards if you have been separated.

Tuesday November 17th

It’s shoe day! Place a sturdy pair of shoes under each bed in your home. These should be shoes that are not normally worn so they remain in place for a middle-of-the-night evacuation or other emergency. If you have young children place the shoes where an older family member, even in the dark, can easily find them.

Remember that young children grow out of shoes quickly. These shoes should be changed out regularly as children grow out of them.

Wednesday November 18th

Create a snack pack. Place a few items in a basket or drawer with snack items and drinks to be grabbed as you leave. These will enable you to survive a long trip to your evacuation destination or a long, slow, drive on clogged roadways.

You do not want to stop before you reach your destination. Stopping can cause you to lose your place in traffic lines and can also be dangerous if there is civil unrest. Rotate through this stash in lunches and snacks for road trips.

You may have someone who is lactose intolerant, in which case you may want to add almond milk and Lactaid. For a diabetic you may want to add hard candy and nuts.

Thursday November 19th

Make enough copies of the photos you took to include in the Emergency Kits of all family members, to send a copy to your out of area contact, and two more complete sets (you'll see why in a moment).

Friday November 20th

Mail one set of copies of your photographs to your out of area contact, place a set in all Emergency Kits, take one set to work, and place the final set in your Auto kit.

Saturday November 21st

Purchase a map that will enable you to take a route that may be unfamiliar to you. Remember your GPS may not always give you alternate routes. Be prepared to use routes specified by the emergency officials when those are available.

Do not use any road or shortcut unless you know they are safe, but there may be routes through neighborhoods that are safe to use when main roads are closed. Mark several routes out of town with different colors of marking pens for easy reference during a time of stress.

Sunday November 22nd

Place emergency phone numbers in your 72-hour kits and in each car. Remember to include police and fire departments, hospital, doctors, dentist, ophthalmologist, poison control, schools, out of state contact, bishop, friends, family, and your own family phone numbers.

During a stressful time you will forget information such as phone numbers. Call your out-of-area contact and let them know you will be calling them tomorrow night (see below).

Monday November 23rd

Remember, every family member should have your out of area contact information. Teach your family to phone this contact immediately after a disaster strikes. Explain that this person will relay messages to the rest of the family as they check in. Tonight practice having each person call your contact so family members will feel confident doing so when the time comes.

Tuesday November 24th

Purchase a car charger for your cell phone and leave it in the car. You don’t want to be searching for your charger when there are more important things to be thinking about. If there is a power outage associated with your evacuation, a car may be the only way to charge your phone.

Wednesday November 25th

Add food, medications and water for pets to your snack drawer. Remember you are going to use these items and rotate everything in this drawer, but if you should have to evacuate you will have items together so you can get out quickly.

Thursday November 26th

Happy Thanksgiving! If you have friends and family visiting for dinner, let them know what you have been doing to prepare and offer to share this calendar with them so they can prepare in December.

Friday November 27th

Add some entertainment. Purchase books on CD, Mad Libs, crossword puzzles, or anything else your family may enjoy doing together while stuck in traffic or a shelter. Place them in your glove box now and if you don’t need them for an emergency then you are ready for your next road trip.

Saturday November 28th

Have each family member clean their room and then get out your video or still camera and take pictures. Open every door and drawer and shoot away. This inventory will be worth its weight in gold if you should have to make an insurance claim after a disaster.

Place the disc with these pictures in your 72-hour kit and at the top of your evacuation list. Send a second CD to your out of area contact. If you are not home when the disaster occurs your contact will be able to provide you with the proof you need for an insurance claim.

Sunday November 29th

Copy the following list and post it with your evacuation chart —

To Do Before Evacuating:

  • Close and lock doors and windows.

  • Close all inside doors.

  • Unplug electrical equipment such as radios, televisions and small appliances. Leave freezers and refrigerators plugged in unless there is a risk of flooding.

  • If you are leaving due to fire, leave outdoor lights on. It will help firefighters see your home.

As a family review the list and review the Nauvoo Times article Don’t Forget the Birds this review should make you feel really good about all your efforts this month and help you recognize anything still left to accomplish.

Monday November 30th

Do a practice run. Set a timer and give your family 20 minutes to collect everything on your evacuation list and place it in the car. Be sure to have everyone check off the items as they place them in the car so they get used to this step, and don’t skip it during a real evacuation. You will learn a lot.

You may discover you need to purchase a car top carrier. You may discover you need both cars to fit everything in, but what if one car is unavailable? In this case you may need to prioritize which items to take if only one of the cars is at home at the time of evacuation. You may discover things have been moved and not returned to the place listed on your chart.

Being prepared is an attitude and a lifestyle as any good habit that becomes part of who we are and the way we choose to live. Children will want to be part of something they see as exciting and valuable such as being ready for unforeseen emergencies like weather events and civil emergencies.

Now is the time to calm your family’s fears by teaching them how to prepare and helping them to find the reassurance that no matter what challenge they face, all will be well.

Contact Carolyn at Carolyn@TotallyReady.com Follow her on facebook.


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About Carolyn Nicolaysen

Carolyn Nicolaysen grew up in New Jersey and joined the Church while attending Central College in Pella, Iowa. With a degree in Home Economics, she later worked as a high school teacher, and served as an elected trustee of her local school board. Carolyn has taught personal and family preparedness to all who will listen. Having lived in areas that were threatened by winter storms, hurricanes and tornadoes, and now living in an earthquake prone area, she has developed a passion for preparedness. Carolyn started her own business, TotallyReady, when she saw the need for higher quality emergency information that could truly sustain families in a disaster.

Carolyn is FEMA trained and is an Amateur Radio first responder. She serves as Relief Society president of her California ward.

Carolyn is the author of three ebooks, Mother Hubbard, What She's Doing Now (food storage for the 21st century), Prep Not Panic (preparing for a pandemic of medical emergency) and That Won't Happen to Me (a discussion of disaster preparations). She has also authored a glove box book, Totally Ready for the Road and writes a monthly newsletter and the Totally Ready facebook page.

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