Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Are You Ready for Emergencies?

Todd knelt down in the straw.  “Let’s see what’s in this backpack that can help us out here.”

She lifted the light so he could see inside

“Emergency blankets.  Yes.” He pulled a handful of foil bundles out of the backpack and quickly unfolded one.  It crackled when he draped it over Nora's shoulders.  She pulled it tight to try to preserve her non-existent warmth.
“Are you warmer?”
“I’m not freezing,” she said.  “Does that count?”

“It's a step in the right direction.  Let's lie down.  We'll put the blankets around us.  We’ll be okay.”

“Have I told you how much I love your backpack?  And that you’re organized enough to keep it in your truck?”
             His laugh made the sheep shed seem warmer.  “My backpack and I are gratified to hear that. Now lie down."  

In this scene from my book-in-progress (Wild Horses, March 2016) my hero and heroine get trapped by a flash flood and are forced to spend the night in an old sheep shed out in the high desert.  It's a dangerous situation, but luckily for them, the hero, Todd, has an emergency backpack stashed in his truck. When he realizes the heroine, Nora, is in the path of the flash flood, he grabs that backpack before he runs off to try to rescue her.

Writing about Todd and Nora's efforts to survive got me thinking about my own preparation for emergencies.  Living in California means living in earthquake country.  We are asked to have at least seventy-two hours of supplies on hand in case a large earthquake hits.  That includes food, water, clothing, medical and first aid supplies, etc.  


I have my family's emergency supplies fairly well organized.  This is mainly due to my friend Debra's advice. She's a professional  home organizer with some great insights into how to stay prepared.  Thanks to her, every year in early November we go through our emergency supplies. Any canned food that is getting close to its expiration date goes to Thanksgiving food drives and we shop for new canned food to put in our kit.  If a disaster hits, we'll have food to eat, and in the meantime we're not letting the cans expire, so their contents won't be wasted. We also update the rest of the kit at that time.

It worries me that many people I know and love are not prepared for disasters.  Tonight at dinner with friends, we talked about earthquakes and found that only half of us had our supplies ready.  Recently, talking with a few other close friends, I learned that none of them were prepared.  

I think people avoid getting ready for a couple reasons.  First, it's depressing thinking about all the terrible things that might happen.  Secondly, it feels really overwhelming.  I can't do much about the depressing part, but I do encourage my friends to utilize websites that walk us through how to be ready. Most major cities have a disaster preparedness website.  In San Francisco it's SF72 .  And here's the link to the site put together by New York City.  And at the Center For Disease Control's website, you can even learn how to prepare for a Zombie Apocalypse!

The emergency backpacks we keep in our cars were the inspiration for Todd's backpack.  We use pre-made backpacks that you can purchase on line or (sometimes) at drug stores.  The Red Cross sells them for $55.  

There is one part of emergency preparedness that we are still working on at my house. The Go Bag.  This is a bag of essentials that we can grab if we have to evacuate the house suddenly.  It should include any prescription medication and copies of important documents such as insurance, birth certificates, the deed to the house, etc.  It's good to include cash and anything else essential you might need, such as eyeglasses.  The idea behind the Go Bag is that if there was a need to immediately evacuate the house, you'd be able to have your essentials with you.

In California, people recently had to flee the terrible Valley Fire on extremely short notice.  On the news, many of the people interviewed said they came away with nothing.  But if they'd had a Go Bag in an easy place to access, maybe they could have grabbed it as they ran from their homes. And perhaps it would have helped them feel a bit more hopeful and comfortable.

If my hero, Todd, was here right now, he'd tell you how glad he was that he had that emergency backpack in his truck.  So I encourage you to take a look at your local websites, and start to put together your emergency supplies - if you haven't already. 

Stay Safe Out There! 


Mary Preston said...

My mother has an emergency kit. I really should put one together.

Claire McEwen said...

Hi Mary! I really think it's a good idea. I guess it depends on where you live and what type of hazards you might find, but after watching the news footage of people racing away from these wildfires in CA, it really hit home for me how important it is!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the reminder. We really need to put one of these together.

penney said...

We have a fiorst aide kit here and water every week but I know I'm missing more items. Thanks for the reminder it's something we just don't think about! When we should.

Claire McEwen said...

Thanks for your comments, Laurie and Penney! It IS hard to keep it in mind! Life is already so busy. I've got "go through emergency stuff" on the calendar for the first week in November, so I can donate any canned food that will expire in the next year. Take care!

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