what would you take?

talley_sue_nycAugust 30, 2005

When we heard about the evacuations of the communities in Katrina's path, my DD and I started wondering what *we* would take if we had to leave.

I figured, we'd have about 5 hours till we *had* to hit the road (earlier is better), so there was time to think, and to pack. But what we brought would *have* to fit in our car (fortunately, ours has a big trunk, LOL! And we'd need room for some food & water (though if we were evacuating, hopefully they'd have food & water where we went).

So we went from room to room trying to decide. It was an interesting exercise, and got me wondering why I'm keeping some stuff at all.

I didn't get much input from DH, but I think I'm going ot ask him to think about it. It was interesting

Books: I'd take the "My Book House" set from my childhood, and the two James Anderson paperback mysteries that are out of print. That's pretty much it--I'd leave the yearbooks (even though I was editor), probably. We'd bring maybe 2 copies of the book my DH wrote. The rest can be replaced.

Photos: all our pictures are in one spot--I'd probably just bring them all instead of taking time to sort them out. And the wedding album, and several frames off the wall. I realize now that my picture of my grandparents (which I could get copied from my mom's, I guess) is God knows where. So I want to keep an eye out for it, and consolidate it w/ the others.

Heirlooms: "Susie," the cloth doll given to me my Mrs. Hill (my "little old lady down the block" from when I was 4); the baptismal gown & my wedding dress, some of the other heirloom clothes (my dad's baby gown).

Paperwork: the birth certificates are all in a fire-safe lockbox; the retirement accounts and savings accounts are all in the file drawers. That's info I wouldn't want to have to recreate.

Furniture: I would cry about my great-grandma Adams's mahogany chesterdrawers. And my Castro Convertibles sofabed (though I'd make DH help me set it up on the DR table just in case that would keep the mechanism and the wood from rusting & rotting).

What about you--what would you take? Is there anything on your list that would surprise you? (either because you brought it, OR because you left it?)

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I'm not certain what sentimental/material things I would save. My family has experienced many devastating floods and I have the following advice for anyone facing floodwaters and/or hurricane weather:

(1) throw everything you can't take with you (pictures, sentimental items) into rubbermaid tubs or ice coolers (the type w/locking lids) and toss them into the attic of your home or the highest point in your home. This won't save them if the roof is blown off but it will save them from floodwater.

(2) pile furniture on top of things - on kitchen cabinets, tops of beds, etc. If flooding is minimal this will save your furniture.

(3) VERY important - remove dust ruffles or bedspreads from beds because water will seap through them and ruin your mattresses. (This advice saved my grandmother's mattresses when all of her neighbors lost theirs to floodwater)

(4) A week's worth of clothes, food (including pet food), blankets and the (hopefully already organized) firesafe box with all important family documents go into the car trunk.

(5) Mini blinds should be rolled all the way up to expose the windows below - mini blinds act like swords (slicing everything they hit) when windows are blown out.

(6) Do NOT pile stuff into your bathtub. Sewage, etc. will back up into the pipes during a flood and come through your bathtub - regardless of whether the drain is plugged.

That's all I can think of for now...

    Bookmark   August 30, 2005 at 1:52PM
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Good question, Tally Sue. I was thinking about this just yesterday, and thinking of the emergency tubs I have *not* organized for us. I'm very thankful we are very much landlocked where we live, but it still made me wonder what we'd take in a situation like that.

I would forget to grab photos - I'm just not much of a photo person. So those would stay, by default. To be honest, even though I would like to save my books and other things, I think when faced with an evacuation order like that, I'd probably be so consumed with taking the essentials (my pets, and all the stuff they need, paperwork, and all the stuff my DH and I would need like clothes, water, etc), that I probably wouldn't even think to grab anything else, sad though it may be. The pets make my choices a bit more difficult, because we'd have to find somewhere to go *to*, since pets aren't allowed in government shelters. So that would probably be my main worry - everything else would more than likely be left behind, wherever it happened to be at the time.

I feel bad for all the trouble those people are going through down there - I really could never live in an area with so much high risk for those awful hurricanes.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2005 at 2:01PM
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It depends. If I had advance warning like with a hurricane, I think I'd take the photos and the fireproof box with our birth certificates, etc. I'd also take the hard drive to the computer. A few blankets, clothes, medicine, and food would be nice too.

I was evacuated last year on short notice because a local business blew up and there was the potential for a chemical cloud. I was shaking when the fire truck drove down the street and told us to leave immediately. I grabbed the kids, clothes I had already packed for the kids only, diapers, and the cat. After I left, I realized I probably should have taken medicine and clothes for me and dh too. I went to a friends house for a few hours and was then let back into my neighborhood with the warning that I might be evacuated agin. I packed the vehicle with emergency supplies before I went to bed. Fortunately, I didn't loose anything and I got the most important things - the kids and the cat. Several people forgot their pets. It turned out to be a good training excercise.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2005 at 11:17PM
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MEDICATIONS! I forgot those! I hope I'd have remembered them if it had been an actual event.

One thing that's different in your "potential chemical contamination" scenario: you are not going so far away that you couldn't get ahold of your pharmacist or doctor to get replacement meds. You'd be near a functioning hospital, etc. You could borrow clothes from friends if you had to. W/ a hurricane, you'd be farther away from those sort of support systems, or those support systems wouldn't function.

Also, hopefully some of the paperwork and heirlooms could be salvaged/cleaned/accessed before tossing.

But your scenario reminds me of a conclusion I came to after 9/11 and after the blackout that came several months later: we should all have evacuation plans.

not so much for terrorist attacks as for stuff like chemical leaks, tornadoes, fires, ordinary stuff.

We should designate a contact person far from our area who can call--for me, maybe I'd call my mom in IA, and then *she* would call aunts, uncles, cousins, even maybe my inlaws. Because the phone lines are often down; or if they're not, everybody calling in to see if you're OK can clog the phone lines. That means, of course, making sure that my mom has my phone list to call folks she wouldn't automatically think of.

We should all probably have a family meeting place--if you can't get home, you go there. We had one, when I was a kid, for if our house caught on fire. Everybody's window opened on a different side of the house, and we were NOT to go looking for one another; we were to get OUT of the window, and go across the street to Mrs. Fisher's patio, and WAIT THERE. I think that was part of the "keep the kids from running back into the house in panic" plan.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2005 at 2:00PM
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We live about 25 miles inland from the SC coast. We've been through several hurricanes, but never had to evacuate. The strongest I remember are Fran & Bonnie, both Cat. 3. My dad remembers when Hazel, which was a Cat. 4, struck in 1954.

The cats & our meds would be first on the list. Next would be clothes & a small amount of food & water.

As time & space permitted, I'd take the following:

*All of our really important documents - the deed to the house, vehicle titles, wills, marriage license, etc. are together in one box. I'd definitely grab that. I'd also try to get insurance policies. I wouldn't worry about retirement info, as our companies could reproduce that later if needed.

*Both laptops, which have lots of important info & quite a few of our photos

*My few pieces of "good" jewelry - all sentimental items from DH

*I'd love to take my Thomas Kinkade painting & one other (an original by a local artist). Both of these were gifts from DH.


    Bookmark   August 31, 2005 at 10:13PM
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First I'd take the fireproof box...contains birth certificates and such and a backup of our business records and personal records. AND our pets! I can't believe people would leave them behind. I can't even fathom that. That's not even an option.

Then, if there's room or time after that, I'd get a couple picture albums, my dd's homeschool curriculum, a change of clothes. The rest is just stuff.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2005 at 12:12PM
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We had this discussion around the dinner table last night, all nine of us. Most of my children decided that they didn't need to bring much, not even the irreplaceable keepsakes I'v been squirreling away since their births.

Since most of this is so unimportant, I really need to let go of it now!

P.S. Today I did give my Fisher-Price bassinet (which I haven't used in four years) to an expectant couple from New Orleans who are in Texas until they are able to return to Louisiana. Their baby is due in a couple of days. They have nothing. I don't know if I'll ever see that bassinet again. Five of my precious babies spent the first few months of their lives sleeping in it.... I'm sad to see it go. But we don't need it anymore, and I'm grateful that someone who desperately needs help is getting a tiny bed for their baby.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2005 at 2:07PM
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We'd grab And probably not in this order--
Assuming we just had a short notice:

1. 72 hour kits for food and water for three days.
2. Water filter
3. computer most likely as all our info is on it.
4. pictures
5. As much of our food as possible (the emergency food)

ANd we'd throw all that in the camper, hook it up to the van and head out. Camper has blankets, some clothes just for this reason, some food, etc.

IF we had more time (like five hours) we'd take two vehicles and probably throw in
- more blankets
- some kids toys and books
- more clothing
- paperwork

We have copies of everything in our safety deposit box. WE also have given my parents and John's parents copies of the same-- birth certificates, wedding licence, house inventory, insurance policy information, will, etc.

I would probably think more in terms of what we had time to load up and could haul (with weight being a key issue) and would probalby not think to take care of things (such as pulling off bed skirts). Of course, if we get evacuated it will be most likely because of fire rather than anything else.

Very little of what we have is important enough to save. It would mostly be pictures and then the information / paperwork type things that would be important.


    Bookmark   September 2, 2005 at 11:48PM
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Ditto to everything above.

I keep saying I'll make copies of documents and scan all pictures and keep them in a remote site like my sister's house in Arizona. Or even online.

And we all should keep a rubbermaid box of emergency food and water, and supplies ready to grab. Don't forget a bunch of can openers. In a pinch, they can be bartered, if things get real bad.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2005 at 5:48AM
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I use the Flylady system and here is her 11 points for preparedness. Always good advice since we live with constant earthquakes.

Keeping this list as well as using the list to help pull together
these necessary items to make an evacuation run smoothly. Here is the
11 Points of Preparedness.
11 Points to Preparedness for Evacuation

1. PEOPLE: Have a plan for getting out of the house and make sure
everyone knows it. Have an emergency bag of food and water for your
family. Wholesome snacks and treats for the children: Dried fruit,
nuts, peanut butter, crackers and granola bars.

2. PETS: Keep pet carriers and leashes readily available to lead pets
to safety. Also take pet food with you.

3. PICTURES: Keep negatives or CDs of pictures in a lock box or at a
family member's home. Have picture albums in one place ready to grab
and go at a moment's notice.

4. PAPERS: Have all your important papers in a lock box at a bank and
only keep copies at the house. This keeps you from panicking. If you
have them at home then put them in a folder that you can grab easily
if you have to move fast. Color code it so you can find it!

5. PRESCRIPTIONS: Take your medications with you. Don't forget the
ones that have to be refrigerated like insulin. Have small ice chest
and cold packs readily accessible to pack and go. If you have babies;
remember their formula or medications.

6. PURSES: This is where you keep your identification, credit cards
and cash. Keep a stash of cash for emergencies and grab it. You may
not be able to use an ATM in the event of a power outage.

7. PROPER CLOTHES and COMFORT ITEMS: According to the weather
conditions; gather up a change of clothes along with outer clothing:
Coats, rain gear, boots, gloves and hats. If you have babies remember
diapers. Remember to grab your children's favorite blanket, stuffed
animal or toy. A game or a deck of cards could keep them occupied and
calm too.

8. PLANNER/CALENDAR/CONTROL JOURNAL: These documents have all the
information you will need from phone numbers, insurance numbers and
important dates. They are small and filled with things you don't have
to try to remember.

9. PERSONAL PROTECTION: Many of us still have that time of the month.
Be sure and grab a box of your preferred protection. It may be hard to
find if you have been evacuated. Stress can cause our bodies to do
strange things too. So be prepared. Take medication for cramps too.

  1. PHONES and RADIOS: Many of us have cell phones now. Always keep
    them charged up and have a charger in the car or an extra battery.
    They may not work in the event of power outages, but then they might.
    Know which local radio station has emergency bulletins. Keep your
    battery powered radio tuned to that local station and have plenty of
    batteries for it.

  2. PATIENCE: This is one of the most important things to pack. Keep
    it inside of you so that you have a clear calm head. Having your P's
    to Preparedness list guiding you will keep you patient. In the event
    of an evacuation there will be lots of displaced people. Being patient
    will make things less stressful. Your children need to see
    you calm and collected. This will help keep them calm too.
    We can FLY in the face of Danger and Emergency if we are prepared.
    Don't wait till you are being asked to evacuate. Everyone thinks that
    it could not happen to them. Well it could and it is up to you to make
    sure you are prepared. Don't wait! DO IT NOW!! -- FlyLady

    Bookmark   September 5, 2005 at 3:44AM
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This is a thought provoking thread. I really need to personalize this as the original question indicates.

Definitely need to give thought to:
communication electronics (c-phone, PDA, laptop)
personal documents (at least scan them for electronic files)
I am notorious for running on empty, so keep tank topped off at first notice of impending danger.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2005 at 5:13AM
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An excellent thread -- and great answers!

I'm ashamed to say how woefully unprepared we'd be in such an emergency -- !!! Hopefully everyone will learn from this disaster -- from the public to the government (of all sorts, kinds and levels ...) too.

I like the Flylady's list! And of course the "people, pets and papers" (and patience!) and meds would be important!

And the Rubbermaid containers -- and the house preparations mentioned above (very wise and excellent thoughts!!!) Many of the house prep ideas simply did not occur to me!

And consider an off-site safe-house "drop zone" (for copies of important papers, pictures of your home and contents, pics of people and pets for i.d. and lists of contact phone numbers, email addresses etc.)

Great discussion! :)

    Bookmark   September 6, 2005 at 12:51PM
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Thanks for bringing this up, Talley Sue. My husband and I had this discussion, and came up with a few items, but no comprehensive list. Thanks to all of you, I can make one now. I'm making this a priority to get sorted out in September, so I don't have to think about it any longer.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2005 at 2:00PM
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I'm working on this right now, too. One thing I don't see listed is a first aid kit -- seems like that might be very useful.

So far my list of emergency supplies to put in a rubbermaid box:

- cat food
- cat litter
- small cat litter box (you can see who is important to me)
- MREs/canned food/whatever else seems appropriate
- can opener(s)
- water
- water filter (great idea)
- a small pot
- plastic utensils, and plastic plates
- first aid kit
- small radio & batteries
- flashlight(s)
- sterno cans
- matches or lighter
- box of pads/tampons
- cash

Sitting within easy reach will be the two cat carriers, the fireproof box with our important papers, and a small suitcase (debating whether or not to put some old clothes in it to keep it permanently packed). Other stuff we would have to grab on the way out would be prescriptions, blankets, etc...

As for stuff I'd want to grab, I'd really have to get my computer -- or at least the backup CDs sitting on my desk. My comic books...but that would really fill up the car. The few pictures we have around...the clock and candlestick holder that I inherited from my grandmother. Most of the rest of the stuff, I could probably live without if I had to.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2005 at 7:26PM
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This is a great motivational tool. My son and I used to play this game a lot when he was young. If our house caught fire and burned down which things would we absolutely not be able to live without? We were always amazed at how few things made our list.

It motivated me to clear all the crap out of my curio cabinet and fill it with my favorite special mothers day presents I've accumulated over my 29 year mothering career. They're all in one place and easy to grab and go. And my photos of course.

It motivated him to get rid of old toys and keepsakes, and cherish his really important things.

Most importantly, when I'm reminded of how little is really "valuable" to me, it's gets real easy to get rid of all the other useless stuff I've accumulated.

There's a great thread going over on the Florida Gardening Forum titled Hurricane Tips. It has tons of good ideas on this same topic.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2005 at 10:42AM
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Oops, I just got an email from Gardenweb that the Hurricane Tips thread got moved to the Conversations section of the Florida Gardening Forum (it's off-topic). It's worth looking at if you might be in an evacuation situation. It has a lot of great ideas of things you might not think of.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2005 at 12:55PM
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Regarding photos- when I get them back from the developers , I give the negatives to my sister to store at her house and she gives me hers. That way we don't have to worry about leaving photo albums behind. I have a nice box for her negatives.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2005 at 2:54PM
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Check and make sure your safe deposit box is not in the basement of your bank...they are notorious for flooding first!

Also, we tape our emergency list to the inside of a cabinet and it has all the things we'd take, along with contact numbers. You never know how level headed you'll be in an emergency situation.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2005 at 3:50PM
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Jannie, I like that "swapping negatives" idea!

And sherry3, that "inside the cabinet door list" is really smart--it's true, you never know what you'll remember to take when you're flustered.

My DD cut her arm, and I knew she'd need stitches, so we rushed to the emergency room---and sat, sat, sat. I didn't bring her insurance card, but I would have had TIME to--I was just too flustered.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2005 at 11:08AM
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I tell ya one thing that I didn't see mentioned anywhere, and that's CASH! Most likely checks wouldn't be accepted if you had to evacuate somewhere else and ATM machines would be overrun as people were leaving.

Just a thought. Have decided to start keeping a larger supply of cash at home than what I did in the past. (Do I need to say to robbers that we have a big, mean dog and several guns! LOL)

    Bookmark   September 15, 2005 at 11:49PM
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What good ideas! I wouldn't have though about water filters or can openers or even the pads/tampons (DUH!). And I'm SO guilty of never having any cash on hand. Those go on my list.

JessyFeldm mentioned bartering -- my DH thought of this, too. If there was a huge disaster (and I'm thinking terrorist attack -- we're between NYC and Boston and there's a sub base to the south of us), we'd might be cut off for quite some time. I hate to be paranoid, but a few items to barter might be good to have. Batteries, can openers, matches -- I'm thinking small and portable. What else could be bartered?

    Bookmark   September 16, 2005 at 9:34AM
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Diapers and formula.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2005 at 7:39AM
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I think extra coffee would be good for bartering.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2005 at 12:56AM
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How could I forget coffee? Yesterday I was in Walmart and some of the brands/sizes of coffee were missing from the shelves with signs on the shelves saying that due to Hurrican Katrina, there were shortages in certain products.... I should either kick the coffee habit or keep more than a few weeks worth of coffee on hand.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2005 at 7:30AM
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Definitely coffee! Excellent suggestion, I just don't function well without it.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2005 at 9:17AM
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Beyond emergency supplies, clothing and paper. I have two boxes. In one are all of my kid's baby pictures. In the other is a handmade crocheted tablecloth of my grandmother's and a crystal dish that belonged to my other grandmother.

Everything else? Whatever. A tiny bit of history for me. Both boxes are in the bottom of my closet. I know exactly where they are.

Btw, I always drive around with a flat of bottled water in the back of my van. Winter or summer, there is always water and a blanket in there. Forget dire emergencies, in the even of breaking down in the snow or when there is a heat index of 105, we won't ever be without water.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2005 at 2:10PM
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Forget dire emergencies,

There's an important point. By being prepared for dire emergencies, we're prepared for small ones.

By being prepared for small emergencies, we're prepared for large ones. (even if only partly)

    Bookmark   October 3, 2005 at 5:05PM
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