Last week I wrote my Post-Sandy suggestions Part 1, this week then will be... Part 2! (That was easy, wasn't it?) Once again this week's post is in a pondering format, along with a few links at the end. That's the way my brain has been working lately.
You know, as I was watching the satellite pictures of Sandy on the news, it reminded me a lot of the disaster movies I enjoy watching in the safety of my family room... only this was really happening.
Looking back, if I had told someone living in the middle of nowhere (without technology and no bars on a cell phone) that a storm was hitting the United States on the East Coast and you could see the edge of it in Chicago, I don't think they would believe me.
The weather is one of those areas where The Left, The Right, and The In-between should be able to agree that something strange is going on. We may not agree as to what is causing the weather anomalies but they really are happening and we need to be prepared... for there are few places in the world where it is not being experienced.
I can't tell you how many times lately I have heard our local meteorologists say that we're having "the hottest", "the coldest", "the driest", "the wettest", etc. weather on record. If I watched a movie on the Sci-Fi network that was about New York City getting hit by a hurricane and then near blizzard conditions the next week, I would have laughed at the absurd plot... but that is what happened within the past two weeks.
Okay, I get what you are saying that we need to be prepared for anything these days but do you have more actual suggestions? Ummm... yes, for a matter of fact. I'll continue each week to talk about stocking up and actual items it would be good to have in our homes but today I want to chat a little more about other areas of preparation.
Keep backup copies of favorite photographs.
It has been touching to see people walk away from their homes with just a few things in a plastic bag, happy to find even the smallest item from their shattered houses but the one item (items?) they miss the most are destroyed pictures.
I realized it would be a good idea to take favorite vintage family pictures and have them scanned digitally or to have extra copies made and send to a couple other family members... people who live outside of my area... just in case.
I've heard numerous horror stories of computers crashing and people losing all their digital pictures. I know I've lost important financial information due to a hard drive failing. If you keep your life on your hard drive... invest in backup!
I can assure you, when our house was hit by lightening and then a week later to have a gas leak (caused by the initial lightening strike), I didn't think of grabbing my laptop, much less the desktop in the home office.
Keep important documents in a safe place
We keep our most important documents in one carrying case (which I forgot also to take when the house was hit by lightening... but I did get the cat!). My parents had the same kind of document container, I guess it is the extremely frugal version of a safe.
Of course, a fireproof safe would be great or a safe deposit box at the bank... but the worst thing you can do is file them away somewhere and not know how to get your hands on them immediately.
Our case not only has held documents, photos, passport, insurance policies, etc. but that was where the engagement ring and wedding band were kept until the young woman was officially asked for her hand in marriage and then the wedding in May. ;)
Write down the important information and numbers for your family. If they are kept in a household journal, make a copy and keep the information with your other important documents.
The obvious info is financial information, insurance policy number, important phone numbers, etc. Should your house be hit by a tornado, a hurricane, an earthquake, etc., you will have this information available either in one case that can be taken with you or in a safe deposit drawer at a bank if necessary.
We found out with the lightening strike that you should write down the model number and the serial number of all your appliances and electronics. The insurance claim form will ask for these numbers and the more information you can give them, the quicker you will receive your money! They also prefer having a proof of purchase so keep those receipts for your high price items.
We were told if you have antiques then you should have photos of each antique and proof of an official appraisal when you make a claim and keep the photo memory card with your other important papers. Speaking of the memory card, they also prefer you have taken pictures of each room of your house even if you do not have antiques, this will be especially important if... God forbid... your house is heavily damaged.
Regarding insurance companies... I mentioned this last week but it is worth talking about it again. You must keep up with your policy and what it covers as well as keeping up with the value of your house and car. Assuming you are covered is not a good thing and you do not want the reality to set in after you make a claim.
Talk to your insurance agent, that is what they are there for... especially if you have expensive antiques, photography equipment, computer equipment, jewelry, etc. Your basic coverage may not be enough.
We've been with the same insurance company since we were married and we continued the car insurance on my car which my mother bought when I was sixteen. It is a national company so whenever we moved, even to another state, we had a local agent.
Over time we added rental insurance and home owner insurance. I know one of the reasons our claim was expedited (it happened after all those disastrous tornadoes so the insurance company was swamped) was because my very organized husband had all the information they needed but also because they could look at our long history with the company.
Trust the watches and warnings
If you live in earthquake country, you have to live a life of preparedness! Otherwise, most of us have some kind of watch or warning before we would face an emergency situation. I think one thing we have learned these past few years is that... stuff does happen!
Make a list of what the family needs to do once there is any possibility of an emergency. I have found a written list is essential, my memory does not work at all these days. Even if your family thinks you are crazy, do what is on the list! They probably think you are crazy regardless of what you do.
A sample list is:
- Keep shoes (and coats if necessary) in a central location
- If in an actual tornado warning, make certain shoes are ON! I had a friend whose sister was seriously injured after a tornado stepping on the shattered glass.
- If you have a pet, locate their carrier and/or leash... put in central location
- Put your billfold and/or purse in a central location or on you.
- Put your keys in a central location or in your pocket.
- Put your container that holds important documents in central location
- Put your important medicines out of reach of children but in central location
Note: If you are on insulin like I am, ask your doctor for prescriptions for insulin pens and the needles which they use. In an emergency, you can throw a box of long term insulin pens, a box of short term insulin pens, and a box of their needles together without worrying about refrigeration. It can save your life.
If there is any chance you will need to leave your home, put other important items such as photos, jewelry, recipe box, laptop, etc. in a box or suitcase that can be thrown (gently) into the car.
If it is an emergency such as a forest fire or hurricane and there is a chance you can't return soon (even if your house is fine), you will want your pillows, some clothing, children's "lovies", food, games, your laptop, radio, etc.
The kitty carrier is essential if you have a cat. They do not like to be held for long and we all had scratches to prove it. So we now keep our kitty carrier in the garage instead of in the garden shed. Yes, I know most shelters don't allow pets but some do ever since people die in Katrina because they would not leave their furry members of the family.
I fully understand the above information is not complete but I hope it starts a conversation in your home and helps you think about what you need to do to prepare for a possible emergency situation.
Links and such...
I enjoyed reading this article so much, I've kept the tab up to go back to it and read more information. It is called 21 DIY Emergency Preparedness Hacks and it is... here.
This article is called How Basic Can You Get? #5 and it has numerous good suggestions... here.
Both of the above sites can be subscribed to through rss feed, "Liked" on Facebook, and I believe can be received through e-mail.
I've been asked to repeat my what my favorite preparedness book is and without a doubt it is Dare to Prepare by Holly Deyo, which can be found on my Amazon Widget and at their website... here.