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February 25, 2015
Totally Ready for Anything
Emergency Preparedness: Ready to Run
by Carolyn Nicolaysen

Is your household ready to evacuate? It’s time to do one small thing each day to guarantee you are ready to flee with only minutes to spare.

A few years ago our daughter and her children were hanging out at home waiting to celebrate her oldest son’s birthday. Everything changed when they began to smell smoke and discovered the hill behind their home was on fire. They spent the next half hour gathering important items and preparing to evacuate as soon as the fire fighters gave the order. How would you do if the same scenario were to present itself?

Including your children in your preparations will help them feel empowered and focused when the need to evacuate comes. Make March your evacuation preparedness month. It’s time to check your preparations to discover just how prepared you really are.

Sunday, March 1st
As a family, choose another family (or two or three) to invite to family home evening tomorrow. This should be a family who you know would appreciate help to prepare for emergencies. Consider friends, less active members and recent converts or just a family who needs help knowing where to begin. Invite until you find a willing family (or two or three).

All preparedness efforts find more success with a support group to help. If you live far from family or friends you would like to involve, ask them if you can email a copy of the article you will be reading tomorrow and the calendar (this article) so you can work together long distance.

Monday, March 2nd
Read and discuss Nauvoo Times article Don’t Forget the Birds. Make a copy of this article to share with the family(ies) you have invited.

Tuesday, March 3rd
Contact the other family(ies) who are now your preparedness support and determine what you all need in the way of help or encouragement. Develop a plan for accountability.

Wednesday, March 4th
As a family, make a list of handicapped or elderly neighbors, friends, ward members, and family members who may need help in an emergency. You want to keep all family members involved in the process so they will feel empowered and know what to do should an emergency arise when you are not at home.

Post phone numbers for these people 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.

Thursday, March 5th
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. If you did this last month, good for you! You have the day off!

Friday, March 6th
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.

All family members should have out-of-area contact information with them at all times, so give each family member a copy to keep in their wallet or backpack and enter them on all cell phones. During a stressful time you will forget information such as phone numbers.

Saturday, March 7th
Practice calling your out-of-area contacts today. Have each child make the call dialing and then speaking with your contact. This will help make them feel comfortable should they have to do this during a stressful time.

Sunday, March 8th
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.”

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, March 9th
Get out the chart you created yesterday and add the items you brainstormed under the “Items to be Collected” heading. 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 name of the responsible party in the appropriate spaces on your chart.

Tuesday, March 10th
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 their closet where they still have 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.

Wednesday, March 11th
Now that you have stored your items to be collected, add the location of items to collect to your evacuation chart.

Thursday, March 12th
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 1-month supply for each pet.

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

Friday, March 13th
Gather or purchase the items on your “pet needs” list and place them in a pet emergency kit.

Saturday, March 14th
Add your pet kit to your evacuation list, who will be responsible to collect kit(s) and where it is located.

Sunday, March 15th
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, enabling each family member to easily complete their tasks. Along with this chart post the list of neighbors and friends you will check on as you evacuate. You may want to post both of these in more than one location, just in case.

Monday, March 16th
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. Read Nauvoo Times article Do You Know When to Call 911?

Tuesday, March 17th
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.

Wednesday, March 18th
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.

Thursday, March 19th
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.

Friday, March 20th
Create a snack pack. Add a few items to a basket or drawer to create an area filled 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 if at all possible. 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.

Add items for family members with special dietary needs to the drawer with your snack stash. 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.

Saturday, March 21st
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.

Sunday, March 22nd
Meet with your preparedness support family(ies) tonight 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.

Monday, March 23rd
Make enough copies of the photos you took yesterday to include in the Emergency Kits of all family members, to send a copy to your out-of-state contact, and two more complete sets (you'll see why in a moment).

Continue your household inventory by photographing or taping everything in your living room, family room, laundry room, and bathrooms. Give family members who are old enough cameras and let them shoot away. If children are too young, have them assist opening door and drawers.

Tuesday, March 24th
More inventory. Today inventory the kitchen and dining room.

Wednesday, March 25th
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.

Thursday, March 26th
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.

Friday, March 27th
Copy the following list and post it with your evacuation chart.

To Do Before Evacuating:

Saturday, March 28th
Finish your household inventory by recording the items in your garage. Transfer all your inventory pictures onto a disc and make a few copies.

Sunday, March 29th
Place the disc with these pictures in your 72-hour kit and another with the important papers listed on your evacuation list.

Monday, March 30th
Send a home inventory CD, a set of important keys, and copies of the photos you took a few weeks ago 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 and to help you get into offices, vacation homes and safe deposit box.

Tonight: 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.

Tuesday, March 31st
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.

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.

Ask questions and get tips for preparing at Contact Carolyn at

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