A few years ago, I was evacuated from my home in the middle of the night because of a fire that broke out in the house behind mine. It was then I learned the importance of being prepared for a disaster.
Having to decide what to take in the moment was like a nightmare come true. Especially when you only have 5 minutes to decide and gather. I can't imagine what it would have like if the fire were in my own home and I did not have the 5 minutes to pack before leaving.
In about 5 minutes I had packed my photo albums, my laptop, portable hard drives, cell phone, current project files, backup DVDs of all my critical files, vital paper files, and of course my cat. Thank God I had my pet carrier handy! I also grabbed a suitcase and took my most frequently worn clothes
What would you take in a case like this?
Here are a few tips to help you be prepared to evacuate quickly. First, make sure you know at least know what your most important items are and where they are located!
- Make a list of all your important items and information. Keep this list in a safe and handy place.
- Use an external USB drive / flash drive / DVD or other easily portable media as a backup for all your central files. Back up daily.
- Make a video of each room in your house. Zoom in on all the expensive and irreplaceable items. Also include your outdoor furniture and possessions, even your car(s).
- Update the video regularly and store a copy in a remote place. If possible, digitize and upload the file to a website such as Google Video as a backup.
- When you acquire new large purchases, take photos and add them to your list.
- Make sure you scan all irreplaceable receipts and proof of ownership for irreplaceable items like art and jewelry.
- Make sure all your valuables are recorded and covered by your home insurance policy.
I truly hope you never have a reason to actually need for the items you've prepared but even if you don't ever need them, spending a few hours today to make sure you'll have what you need is a pretty inexpensive insurance policy!
note: Updated in 2009.