By Margaret Houben
One of the main reasons for an evacuation alert is to allow people a bit of time to prepare for the evacuation.
When things go from “everything is normal” to “get out NOW”, a person has no time to select what matters most. You just grab what happens to be nearby and run.
But when there is an alert – you have time to select specific things, things that might be in the back of the closet, or up on that top shelf, or tucked away at the back of the cupboard; things that have great personal meaning but that aren’t normally where you can snatch them up in an instant of panic packing.
A grab-and-go bag is a suitcase or backpack, or even just a large shopping bag, that is pre-packed with essentials. There are lists out there on the internet that you can download to build your own grab-and-go bag. Following is a list suggested by the Government of BC website:
• Food (ready to eat) and water
• Phone charger and battery bank
• Small battery-powered or hand-crank radio
• Battery-powered or hand-crank flashlight
• Extra batteries
• Small first-aid kit and personal medications
• Personal toiletries and items, such as an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses
• Copy of your emergency plan
• Copies of important documents, such as insurance papers and identification
• Cash in small bills
• Local map with your family meeting place identified
• Seasonal clothing and an emergency blanket
• Pen and notepad
While this is a good list that covers most of the essential items, it doesn’t include any memorabilia – things that mean something to you and can’t easily be replaced. This is where the alert gives you a little time to make another bag (or two) of the things that matter to your heart. Things such as:
• Photo albums – the old ones you’ve been meaning to scan into the computer, but just haven’t gotten around to.
• Jewelry – those costume jewelry pieces that aren’t worth much money but that mean a lot, because that’s what mom always wore, as well as the expensive stuff.
• Clothing – not every-day wear, but special items, like dad’s campfire blanket that’s covered in all those really old badges. Or mom’s favourite hat that she made, the one you wear on special occasions. Or that special halloween costume that you made that you just love!
• Toys – if you have kids that are evacuating – their favourite toys and a game or two to keep them occupied. If you don’t have kids (or they no longer live with you), then toys that are of sentimental value to you – that cribbage board that dad made years ago, the doll that mom gave you when you were little. Or in my case – Hal A. Pinot!
• Club and/or hobby stuff – if you belong to a group (Lions, Legion, Quilters, Golf, etc.), the odd item that matters. I’ve got a fishing rod that lives in the trunk of the car all year round. Then I’ve got my Lion’s vest. If I was a golfer (but I’m not) I’d probably want to take my golf clubs, as I believe they can be quite expensive. I am a crafter, so I’ve got a small bag that has an embossing machine (it’s smaller than a toaster) and a few other odds and ends, like my favourite scissors, hole punches, and rubber stamps.
Basically, the alert gives you time to figure out what really matters to you. Take each room in turn – stand in the middle and look around and say to yourself, is there anything here that I can’t replace? Books? – you can buy new ones; if they are out of print, it may take a bit of time hunting through the used books stores, but it is doable. Furniture? – you can buy new stuff (and maybe that’s a good thing!). All those pairs of shoes? – half of them you’ve never gotten around to wearing, anyways, or some of them are so worn out they should have been chucked a while ago! In the kitchen? – your favourite mug and maybe mom’s handwritten notebook of special recipes. Pots and pans can be replaced.
So take the opportunity of the alert to figure out what really matters, and if some of the items were “stored” in the first place, now they will be stored in a grab-and-go bag for the next time there is an emergency.
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