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© Gail Underwood Parker

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Soapbox: Preparing for Disaster

As I write this a hurricane seems headed for the Southeastern US coast and will be hitting the Bahamas even sooner.  Unlike tornados, we have warning about hurricanes today, at least in the U.S. What a blessing the gift of time to prepare is!  What would you do if you had a day to get ready for disaster. Think about it.  Because whether hurricane, forest fire, flood, or other, disaster can happen to anyone, anywhere.

Generally we have little control over a disaster.  Sadly, the part we can control we usually don't.  We CAN control how prepared we are.  Is it because preparing makes us think about the possibility of disaster?  Is it because starting to prepare shows how unprepared we catually are?  Whatever the reasoning... lack of preparedness is not a good plan.  Here are my three basic packets,

Water bottles for 3 days of water for the whole household.
Dry or canned food that can provide noursihment without being cooked or refrigerated.
MEDICINE for 3-5 days.

KEY INFO PACKET: plastic folder/envelope with a copy of all your credit cards [front and back], copy of SS card, driver's license, birthcertificates of kids, medical emergency info and contact info for family members. In addition to banking account info I try to keep a smallish amount of cash in this packet as well.

Think of the photos of people and places that you would be heartbroken to lose in a fire or flood.  Make one album with a picture of each of those people, places, or events. First home, grandparents, wedding, baby, whatever. Same for jewelry or other small posessions.  If they are too large to take, take photos of them and put the photos in the album. This will help preserve the emotional ties and memories, often the biggest loss in a disaster.

Make it fit YOU and your family.  Ex: I am a writer, so in my heartbreak packet is also a flash drive [ok, several] with a copy of my most crucial computer files and photos. I also have a flash drive with a video walk-through of my house inside and out for emergency insurance purposes.

These three packets aren't sufficient for true preparedness. But, the food and meds are in a specifc place and the info and heartbreak packets are together in one backpack with a couple of water bottles and nutrition bars that in a pinch I could grab and run with only two minutes warning.

What are your essentials?
                         What have I forgotten?
                                              What ideas can you share?

Image credits:,,,

[Note: As I was writing this in Maine, I felt queasy...later discovered what I was feeling was the earthquake tremor residue of the Virginia quake!..eerie given the topic I was writing about! GP]


  1. I like the idea of a heartbreak packet. I need to compile those things in one place- just in case! Thanks for another great post!

  2. The heartbreak packet was one I added to my list after watching people pick through debris after tornadoes or floods, and their excitement when they would find an intact photo! Little did I know how timely it would be when Hurricane Irene headed for the East Coast. Thanks for commenting! Gail