As of this moment, we have a dozen major wildfires burning in Colorado. On Tuesday the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs exploded and began burning homes in a quiet subdivision. The news channels are broadcasting live images of hundreds of homes destroyed by the relentless fire, and those of us a safe distance from the danger watch and shake our heads in disbelief. We pray for rain and we make donations to the Red Cross, but it’s hard not to feel helpless watching the out-of-control inferno as hundreds of brave firefighters battle the blazes.
Many in Colorado Springs, Boulder, Fort Collins and other areas are now all too familiar with the phrase “pre-evacuation notice.” Those close to the fire’s path have received reverse 911 calls advising them to gather important documents and supplies so that they can be ready to leave in a moment’s notice if needed.
Suppose you had just a few minutes to gather what was important to you and get out of your house? Do you have your papers, medications and valuables in one easy-to-grab location? More importantly, what else would you take?
The American Red Cross has put together an excellent evacuation checklist with specific steps you can take to be prepared in case you have to leave your home during a disaster. I decided to make my own list, with the things I’d want to take in order of priority:
1. Kids (let’s not forget them!)
2. Pets (a dog, cat, rat and fish – Lordy, the car is going to be crowded)
3. Purse (which theoretically contains my cell phone, car keys, reading glasses and a credit card – since I usually have about two dollars in my wallet)
4. Pet food, snacks and water bottles
5. Clothes and shoes
6. Important papers (insurance info, birth certificates, passports)
7. Photos and scrapbooks
8. Mementos and items of sentimental value
9. Valuables like jewelry
Going through this exercise was interesting for me. Once you get past #2 on the list, things drop pretty quickly in priority. But can you imagine losing your home and everything in it in a disaster? Our thoughts and prayers are with those families, and with the firefighters who are risking so much and working so hard to put out the fires.
What would you grab in an emergency?