Now is the time to think about how an emergency will impact you, make decisions and take action.
When an emergency hits, stress will render you unable to think clearly. In that moment when fire is barrelling down upon you, the flood waters are rising or you're packing everyone into the car to deal with a medical emergency in a major city 4 hours away, you will not be able to think rationally. Without pre-planning, your only thoughts will be of getting everyone out and staying alive. And while life is truly all that matters, life will become very difficult without your basic needs being met beyond the initial emergency.
The trap we all fall into is "It won't happen to me. We aren't in the danger zone. I will deal with it if and when it comes". But when 1/3 Australians will be faced with an emergency situation in their lives, being prepared will make all the difference. Just look at the recent wildfires in California which has taken out entire suburbs quickly and decisively. The suburbs won't save you.
As a Professional Organiser, here are the the steps I recommend you consider taking now, while you have the luxury of time and clarity of thought.
Ensure all your digital documents are backed up to a cloud storage system, and accessible from any online device. Make sure the process works properly and automatically. Alternatively, have an external hard drive or USB key with your backups which you can grab quickly.
Have all your hard copy Vital Personal Documents together in an enclosed container and easy to grab; i.e. birth/marriage certificates, passports, a list of your insurance policies and their providers, a list of your bank accounts/credit cards/loans and their providers, valuation certificates, wills and trusts, powers of attorney, citizenship papers, funeral plans, property deeds, a list if your logins/passwords, medical records and vet records are just some to consider.
Digitise all your photos and add them to your online cloud storage. Whilst time consuming it entirely worth it, as many people who experience disasters lament the loss of photos as one of their biggest upsets. Do the same with any family records/family trees and other historical information.
Mementoes and family heirlooms:
Decide now what can realistically be taken, and what will be left behind. If there is anything you don't want to risk, consider relocating it to a safer location such as a bank safe deposit box now.
Grab Bag and Go Lists:
Have 1 Master Grab Bag stocked with items such as toiletries, a first aid kit, torch, portable radio with batteries and some basic food and water to cover the family for at least 3 days. And don't forget your pet needs too. With it, keep a Go List for each member of the family; 1 piece of paper for each person which lists their personal needs, that they can take to their room and follow when needing to throw everything into a bag quickly. e.g. Michael needs: 2 pairs shoes, 3 pairs underwear, 2 tops, 2 pants, his glasses and his stuffed toy. Remember, everyone's needs are different. Have an additional Grab Bag List for any other items to be added to the Master Grab Bag at the time of the emergency, such as medicines, phone charger, dog lead and family mementoes. Make sure your Vital Personal Document container and external hard drive are listed here as a reminder.
These area great place to start, but you need to ask yourself "What else would I miss if you didn't have it in an emergency?"
For more in depth assistance and information about being ready for an emergency, I highly encourage everyone takes the Are You Ready Quiz from the Red Cross and check out the Fire Ready Kit from the Country Fire Authority.