Here's my guilty secret - I’m a disaster movie mega-buff. It's a slight obsession. I watch them with pleasure while I'm shredding papers, organizing files or performing other tasks that require entertainment distraction. If you wanna watch movies about tornadoes, volcanos, floods, alien invasion, I’m your gal. I’ll bring the popcorn. No shark-tornados or monster-alligators, please. After growing up in Florida, I’ve seen enough of those gnarly-toothed animals to last a lifetime.
As a disaster movie mega buff, I take pride in my all-encompassing knowledge of how to prepare for a disaster.
Recently, however, I was served a big slice of humble pie when my apartment building caught on fire.
The alarm went off at 4 AM. It was loud. Ear-banging loud. I slipped on my shoes, grabbed my phone and my emergency to-go disaster bag that I keep by the front door (good little disaster prep artist that I am) and raced down the five flights of stairs to the front sidewalk - quick shout out to my fireman friend who advised me to never live higher than the ladder on a fire truck can reach (100 vertical feet).
As I stood shivering in the cold, I realized that although I had my cell phone, passport, some cash, and my ‘can’t lose or I’m screwed’ documents, I was standing on the street in my pajamas. Without my glasses. In house slippers.
If the whole building went up, not only would I squint my way through the day, in my pajamas, but I’d lost my password book (yeah, I’m old school and I write them down), my wallet, and the I-pad I’m writing this on. Oh, and I had forgotten to charge my phone the night before and my battery was down to 20%. Well, crap.
So, this is my public service announcement from a chagrined disaster movie mega-buff:
Prepare a thorough to-go backpack.
You can find cheap backpacks or large purses at Goodwill that will do nicely. At a minimum, put in it the following:
1. Cash – at least $20 so you can buy yourself some coffee while you wait to see what happens. Put in more if you can afford it. Some disaster prep books suggest you have enough for a night at a hotel, or a plain/train/bus ticket to family and friends.
2. All your ‘I’m screwed if I lose’ documents in a water proof bag – zip lock freezer bags work great.
3. A change of clothes and street shoes – sweats and a t-shirt are fine, but you might want to add a jacket in case the alarm goes off in the winter.
4. If you have children, include any necessary items for them – some snacks, a toy, change of clothes, diapers, etc.
5. If you have a pet, include some treats, a toy, and a can of food.
6. An extra charger for your phone.
7. Extra pair of glasses if you have them.
8. Xerox copies of your credit cards, front and back, your driver’s license, your passport, and your prescriptions.
9. A portable first-aid kit – you can buy one the size of a wallet.
Feel free to add items that are important to you. The bag may be heavy, but believe me, it will be worth it.
Random things to also take care of:
1. Upload passwords to a secure online site like Keepers Security.
2. Stay up-to-date on uploading all important files to the Cloud in case you forget to grab your I-pad or Chromebook.
3. Establish a meeting place for your family members if your home or apartment becomes inaccessible (e.g. the coffee shop around the corner).
4. Set up a contact person that everyone can call for information or to check on status – preferably someone who doesn’t live in your town, so they aren’t impacted by the disaster.
5. If you don’t have homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, get it! Policies can be as low as $18 a month – that’s one designer pizza.
6. Take pictures of your possessions in case you need to file an insurance claim.
Please understand this emergency bag is for a building fire or other minor disasters. For earthquakes, tornadoes, wildfires, etc., you need this and more to be prepared. In the case of these bigger types of emergencies, you will need to be ready to survive a minimum of three days on your own. To do that, I HIGHLY recommend Bob Mayer’s e-book: Prepare Now Survive Later. He breaks everything down into manageable steps and levels of preparedness.
That concludes this service announcement.
I’m signing off to go shred some old files...and maybe watch Twister for the fifteenth time.