Thursday, May 19, 2011

Emergency Preparedness

We woke up this morning to the smell of smoke.  There are forest fires blazing nearby and the shift in the wind has caused the smoke to come into town.  When I dropped the children off at school, the announcement on the PA was that due to poor air quality, they will be having indoor recesses today.  I know the fires are a fair ways away still and that there is no need to panic but I also remember that last Sunday the people of Slave Lake were given 15 minutes notice to evacuate their homes.  People who did not have enough fuel to get them to Athabasca or High Prairie (roughly 115-150 kms), were loaded onto a bus.
My mother experienced a house fire about 13 years ago.  The people in the home got out ok but a pet and the entire contents were lost.  My mother is not a material person but she did have some very sentimental things which she misses most.  Things like her mother and grandmother’s recipes, some homemade furniture, but mostly – her pictures.  There are very few pictures of me and my brother as babies left in this world.  My mother had meticulously recorded our lives in photo albums which did not survive.
Please have an evacuation plan and emergency kit available for your family.  Here are some ideas from the Canadian Red Cross  on Emergency Preparedness and  an emergency kit.  I also encourage you to think of things that comfort your children, for example: a stuffed animal, toy, or blanket, etc.  They may not understand what is going on but they will likely be afraid.  Some comforts from home might help them out.  Baby Wipes are an invaluable tool for keeping clean when showers and water are inaccessible and if you have babies, don’t forget the diapers!  Another idea from a friend of mine is to keep your important documents (passports, birth certificates, CD backups of her pictures, etc.) in a small fire-proof safe which you could just grab and go.
Today, I will be preparing the Motorhome for our weekend camping trip but am also going to have some clothes and non-perishable foods left in there in case we need to evacuate quickly.  There is only one road in and out of our little city so it pays to be prepared for a long drive in heavy traffic.  I will also be scanning in our old non-digital photos and backing up important files on the internet.  We already have basic emergency kits which we created with C’s 4-H group last year in case we need to take cover in place, and today, we will also have an evacuation plan with supplies in place.
Is there anything I forgot to mention?  What things does your family do for Emergency Preparedness?

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