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349829_the_big_zipperIf disaster strikes, you may have a mere ten minutes to grab what you need before evacuation. Do you know what to take, where it is, and how to get it? Having a plan in place before an emergency arrives can ensure your survival and comfort if you have to leave your home fast.

Have a Plan for Each Person

Each person in your family over the age of five should be able to grab something to take with him or her. The best way to coordinate this is to have an emergency backpack already prepared for each person, according to his or her needs and size. Some typical items to add to the backpack might be a change of clothing with shoes, a bottle of water, trail mix or high energy snacks, and basic first aid supplies. Mom, dad, or older siblings should also carry additional items, such as cash, medicine, important paperwork, a hand cranked flashlight, a cell phone charger or extra fully-charged cell phone battery, and a thermal blanket.

The backpacks, as well as other emergencies supplies such as additional food and clothing, should be placed somewhere within easy access, and everyone in the family should know where it is and what they should grab. During an emergency, it should take less than three or four minutes to grab and go.

Don’t Forget the Sentimental and the Practical

Now that you have your basic survival covered, you may want determine what other items that you want, but may not actually need, to take. This may include photos, journals, or other priceless memorabilia.  You can always preserve these items ahead of time by scanning them and placing them on a mobile hard drive. The less bulk you have to carry, the better. You may also want to grab a favorite children’s stuffed animal or toy.

Practical items that may be in daily use and therefore not candidates for packing ahead of time might include laptops, cell phones, cameras, etc. Keeping these items in the same place every day means that you’ll know just where they are when you need to get them quickly.

What to Do If You Are Caught Unprepared

In the event that you are caught unprepared, such as if you are in the home of a friend or relative who hasn’t done any emergency planning, you’ll have to act fast. Grab an empty laundry basket and begin filling it with emergency items, starting with the most important: food, warm clothing, flashlights or lanterns, etc.

Try to ignore the sentimental items, as you will probably not have enough time to gather them together. Place a blanket over the basket, tucking in the sides. This will help keep your supplies from falling out and will give you the added benefit of having an additional source of warmth and comfort.

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