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Preparing for an Emergency: What Matters Most?

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If you are preparing for an emergency, you don’t usually have a lot of time to think through what things matter most to bring with you.  I’ve been in this situation a few times in my life. I thought I would share the things I see as most important when evacuating a home during an emergency. This way you can take some time to mentally prepare for unknown situations that may arise in life.
Fire on mountain: preparing for an emergency evacuation
There are moments that happen in our lives to really wake us up.  Make us think about what is most important.  I had a few of those this week.  I live in Utah and it has been an extremely dry year for us.  We had hardly any snow over the winter and even less rain this spring and summer.  Because of that, the wildfires have been out of control.  I have watched as cities all over have been evacuated due to extreme fire conditions- many friends having to leave their homes. I know the same has been true all over the western United States.  Colorado has suffered so much!
This summer preparing for an emergency became a reality for us. It really changes your perspective.

Alpine Utah fire, 2012, preparing for an emergency evacuation

Well this week, my turn came.  A fire broke out on the mountain just up from my house.  I knew it was close and that it was burning fast.  I could see the billowing smoke from my back yard.

My husband and I had discussed a few times what things we might consider packing up if we were preparing for an emergency fire situation and had to be evacuated.  The afternoon this fire started, my Mom called and told me to start packing things up because it was very close.

My kids were at the neighbor’s house playing and my baby was asleep, so I took some time to pray and compose myself from the puddle I felt like melting into. I started planning and thinking about what mattered most in my home.  There is a big difference between what is valuable and what is irreplaceable.

fires on Utah mountains- preparing for emergencies

If you had to go through your whole house and take only what would fit into your car, what would it be? What would be of the most importance to you?

We had to do this several times when I was a child living in Southern Florida during hurricane season. We got good at packing up the car quickly as a family. It’s a scary situation, but knowing you have the most important things with you helps you feel a little more at ease.

fire on mountain in Utah at night- what matters most

Preparing for an Emergency Evacuation: What Matters Most?

Do you live in a dry state with a lot of wildfires?  Do you live in a state that gets a lot of hurricanes?  Maybe you are in the center of the country where tornadoes are more prevalent. Whatever the situation, it’s good to plan in advance and prepare for an emergency evacuation. You never know what could happen!

Here is what mattered most to our family in this emergency evacuation:

  • Photo albums
  • Family history- old photos and journals, family records
  • Important documents- social security cards, passports, tax records, insurance policies. (We have since purchased a portable fire proof file box that we can just grab & go as needed.)
  • Computer and hard drive
  • Phone and charger
  • Clothes for a few days
  • Kids favorite blankets or stuffed animals
  • Diapers
  • Snacks- or food for at least 24 hours if needed
  • My husband’s guns
  • Toiletries
  • My homeschool books!!
  • A few small toys or books for kids
  • First aid kit

After I gathered all of the things that I felt were important, I calmly went to get my children.  I told them that I wanted them home with me and that we had some things to do.  I didn’t want to scare them or alarm them.  When they came home, I told them that we needed to pack up our favorite things- but there is hardly any room, so they couldn’t take much.  My son ran to get the Wii (ha ha!) , my daughter got her Strawberry Shortcake dolls and her favorite blankie.

When my husband came home from work that evening, he, too went through the house to see what more we would take from our home.  The interesting thing was that I was ok with walking away from a house full of things.  I knew that my family would be safe and that whatever happened we would be provided for by family and by the Lord.  I felt detatched from material things and cared only for those that I loved.  It was truly a wake up for me.  It really made me realize what matters in this world.

We did not end up having to evacuate, and were incredibly blessed to get rain (this was truly a miracle since we haven’t had rain for 2 months) to help quench the quickly burning fire after 2 days of 0% containment.

We regularly keep go bags called 72 hour kids in our home. We take our old backpacks and fill them with some emergency essentials.  We update them every other year or so with new supplies to make sure it is all still usable.  Here is some more info on those.

What to Keep in an Emergency 72-Hour Kit When Preparing for an Emergency:

We have a bag packed for each member of the family. This way we can divide out the supplies. But in each bag we make sure there are essentials for survival in case the family is separated.

  • First aid kit
  • Water bottles
  • Nutrient dense, non-perishable foods: peanut butter, granola bars, oatmeal packs, fruit leathers, MRE meals, etc.
  • Change of clothes
  • Socks
  • Rain poncho
  • Matches
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • Hand-crank radio
  • Face masks
  • Duct tape
  • Plastic tarp
  • Toilet paper
  • Hand sanitizer

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  1. Wow… thank you for the thoughtful post. It is devastating to see what is going on in the world around us. You are so right about taking a moment to really think about what is important. There are so many “things” that surround me on a daily basis, but those could easily be left behind. It was wonderful to read this post and reflect on what I would take with me. I am going to post this on my FB and twitter pages so others can take a moment to reflect as well. Thanks for the inspiration. Hang in there! You are blessed!!

    Always A Lesson

  2. I had tears in my eyes while reading this post. I have often thought about the things I would bring if I had to evacuate quickly. I think the hardest thing to walk away from would be the bookshelves full of books. However you are right, the irreplaceable is what really matters.

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