July 02, 2012

Emergency Preparedness - Hitting Home

I have written about emergency preparedness before, always as a dispassionate observer. Although I have an emergency kit and the ability to shelter in place, I didn't seriously plan for evacuation. Although I can't compare my situation with those in Colorado who have lost their homes to wildfires, I have gained some insight into the reality of dealing with having to leave your home.

The electricity went out in my neighborhood last week, after a powerful storm. For the first 24 hours, I thought it would be a short-term outage, ignoring the news reports of destruction. Then I got the news that we could be without power for at least a week.

My sister, who lives a few miles away and hadn't been impacted, offered her home as a temporary refuge. Her family was going on vacation and the house would otherwise have been empty, so it benefitted both of us. I packed the contents of my (very full) refrigerator and freezer and toted it all to her house.

Initially, I left the cat at my house, but multiple trips to feed her were becoming impractical. Since my brother-in-law is allergic, the cat has been exiled to the basement. Don't feel too bad for her; the basement is a finished playroom and she has plenty of space to run around.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
  • Food in a full refrigerator will stay cold for up to 4 hours if you don’t open the door.  After that, it’s best to throw out perishables.  Food in a full freezer will stay frozen for up to 48 hours if you don’t open the door.  If your refrigerator or freezer isn’t full, the food will spoil more quickly.
  • If you have pets, you need to consider where they will live if you have to leave your home. In addition, create an emergency kit for your pets so you can take it with you if you have to leave quickly.
  • Even if you diligently back up your computer, there is a very good reason to use the “cloud.” Not being able to access my business files was a tremendous challenge. This week, I’m signing up for Dropbox.
  • Eating junk food and watching too much HGTV is not going to make the power come back on, but it sure feels good as a stress reducer.
Do you have an emergency plan? Are you prepared to evacuate? What will you do with your pets?  Click on Post a Comment, below, and tell us.

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