Emergency Evacuation

The news cameras show it all. In the aftermath of Katrina, we can’t fail to be moved by the potential for devastation. Hurricanes. Floods. Fires. Blackouts. We can’t prevent all disasters, but organization can help us reduce anxiety about potential catastrophes, diminish the danger during emergencies and the lessen the inconvenience we encounter afterward. Protect yourself, your family and your business-prepare for catastrophes now by following these organizing guidelines.

Five-Minute Warning

What you would grab if you had only five minutes to rescue possessions from home or work? If you aren’t yet sufficiently organized so that you can lay your hands on these items, here’s your cue to start locating and storing them where easily reachable. Develop your emergency plan now — make your checklists, and keep copies in your glove compartment and near major household/office exits. Think in terms of the three H’s: head, health and heart.

  • Head: Set up a VIP (Very Important Papers) section of your filing system. Isolate financial records, PIN #s and passwords, insurance policies with agent phone numbers, and computer back-up disks. (You DO back up, don’t you?) Remember legal documents like birth certificates, passports, mortgage papers, and licenses to help you recoup post-emergency. Carry these items and your safe deposit box key in a fireproof box if you have to evacuate.
  • Health: Maintain a list of all prescriptions, including dosages, that each family member takes. Maintain a back-up supply of medicines you might need immediately, particularly for allergies, asthma, diabetes and heart conditions.
  • Heart: In an evacuation, you can’t bring all of your family photos. Start identifying, copying and/or digitizing whatever has so much sentimental value that you’d miss it long after the emergency is over.

Walking and Talking

Practice fire drills and escape routes. Identify a meeting point outside, away from the danger and be sure to designate someone to count heads. Develop an evacuation plan, with contingency options, for driving out of town. Everyone should keep a copy of the evacuation route. Plan communications alternatives if family or co-workers are far-flung or traveling. On 9/11, during the 2003 North American blackout and after Katrina, phones and email were not always accessible. Identify options to communicate that everyone is safe.

Tools of Triumph

Inventory your emergency tools and supplies and ask these questions:

  • Do your smoke & carbon monoxide detectors have fresh batteries?
  • Have you checked the expiration date on your kitchen fire extinguisher?
  • Is your homeowner or renter’s insurance policy up-to-date and is your coverage equal to your recovery needs?
  • Are your home, car and office first aid kits fully stocked?
  • Do you have LOTS of bottled water?

Don’t delay–check TODAY!

Remember, planning is the first key to organization, and organizing is the key to surviving emergencies and thriving once the danger has passed.

Copyright © 2005 Julie Bestry and Best Results Organizing. All rights reserved.


About the Author:   Julie Bestry is a professional organizer, speaker and author, who helps individuals and businesses save time and money, reduce stress and increase productivity through new organizational skills and systems. Her most recent book is 57 Secrets for Organizing Your Small Business. For information on how Julie can turn your chaos into serenity, visit Best Results Organizing at http://www.juliebestry.com.

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