As a Californian, I’ve been near each one of the fires for the past three years. This year, while living in Santa Cruz County, the doorbell rang. My mother and I were told to pack up and evacuate within an hour, as the CZU Fire had jumped even closer to us the previous night. We threw art, medical equipment, clothing, and the cats in the car and headed to my dad’s house for a week.
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While we are safe now and did not lose anything (luckily — my heart goes out to all of those who lost their homes and businesses in the fire), it made me think: how can I help others who end up in the same situation as me?
If you’re wondering the same thing, too, here are a few tips to help those around you prepare in case a disaster occurs:
Teach them the signs of a natural disaster. Flash floods, fires, and tornadoes can be regular occurrences depending on their location, and knowing the signs can literally save their lives.
Go over safety plans with them. Do they have someone nearby to stay with, or a sturdy building to evacuate to? If not, where is the safest place in their home? Do they have safe exit routes? These are all important to take into mind, as safety strategies should be put into place as soon as there is a warning.
Create a go-bag for their car. For Christmas, my ex’s father gave me a go-bag. At the time, I didn’t realize how important it was…until PG&E cut service during the Sonoma fires, and I had no way of charging my phone, watching the news, or seeing in the dark. The bag became crucial. He also included water, a first aid kit, tape, screwdrivers — all things I wouldn’t think to bring. It came in handy when I was frantically packing up; I had all of the essentials in my trunk.
If you don’t already have a go-bag in place in case of natural disasters, we recommend this one that can be purchased through Amazon Prime.
Keep all of their medications in one consistent place. The last thing needed is a diabetic forgetting their insulin or an epileptic misplacing their seizure medications. (I say this as someone with cystic fibrosis, epilepsy, diabetes, and bipolar I.) Have a cooler bag and ice packs ready for medications that must be kept cold, and an airtight container for all others.
Here are our picks for an insulin cooler container and an insulated cooling medication travel bag.
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Make sure they fill their car with gas in advance. In case they have next to no time to evacuate, they’ll want to be able to drive far away pronto. If they can’t drive, create a different safety plan. Have them connect with fellow students if they’re in college, family members if they’re close, or neighbors in the area (NextDoor is a fantastic tool to connect with those who live around you).
Have them bring their animals inside if there is a warning. The last thing you want is for them to be scrambling for Fluffy outside, so make sure their carriers are ready to grab, their food is packed, and they’re safe indoors for easy grabbing.
Natural disasters are terrifying, whether you’re near to or far away from those you love. By setting a plan in place should worse come to worst, you’re guaranteeing them a great chance of avoiding tragedy. These talks can be scary, but never forget: they are absolutely necessary, and you can never take too many chances.
Hopefully you’re never affected by a natural disaster, but you can never be too prepared. Have you ever experienced a natural disaster? Do you have any of the above practices already put in place? We’d love to hear from you!
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