Preparation H

When I was sixteen my siblings and I were washing the family car when we started to smell smoke. Was it a barbecue, house fire, mom’s cooking? We couldn’t quite figure it out until we saw the smoke pouring out of our garage. We all started toward the house, screaming for our parents. My sister and I immediately went into action and grabbed what apparently were the most important things to us—the cat, his food dish, and his litter box. The house survived, but the garage and our nerves were more than a little singed. Looking back it is a comfort to know that, although I would have had no place to sleep and nothing to wear, my cat would still have been able to go to the bathroom.

What are the most important things in your life? Is it your family? Pets? Your car? Your clothes? Your wedding album perhaps? Heirlooms? If you haven’t lived through a disaster before, be it a fire, earthquake, tornado or hurricane, the sudden need to evacuate can put your common sense to the test. You may only have a split second to choose what to take and what to leave behind. In moments charged with emotion and fear, the last thing you want to be doing is figuring out what, out of all of your possessions, you should take with you.

So as thousands of people begin to pick through what is left of their lives after hurricanes Irma and Harvey, it’s a good time to reevaluate your family’s readiness for the next potential emergency. Get your go-bag ready, your escape or evacuation plan set, and run a couple of drills with your family. And remember, simplifying your life now will simplify your choices then.

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