for your health
By Barbara Bronson Gray
IT’S NOT IF, but when. Whether it’s a wildfire, a tornado, a bad storm, an earthquake or
another major emergency, experts say that it’s
likely you’ll someday have to leave your
home quickly and under a lot of pressure.
Are you ready?
Most of us aren’t. We tend to procrastinate and figure we’ll deal with the situation
when it happens. But that doesn’t work so
well. You’ll be sorry if you don’t have what you
need when it’s time to evacuate, says Daniel
Nyquist, a Denver, Colorado-based community preparedness officer with the Federal
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
It’s smart to create a “go bag” for every
member of your family, including your pets,
says Nyquist: “It’s something highly portable
you can grab quickly to ensure you’ll have
what you need until you get to a shelter or are
settled somewhere else.”
Think short- and long-term
Think about what you’ll want for a few
nights, but also consider important paperwork you may need to get back on your feet
should your home be destroyed or damaged,
he adds. Gather your proof of address, the
deed or lease to your home, passports, birth
certificates, insurance policies, and tax and
banking information, for example.
“Practice truly makes perfect,” says
Nyquist. “Just putting together a go bag helps
you think through the process and what you’ll
need, training your brain to respond.”
Ask Teresa Citarella, of Arlington, Texas.
When she moved from New York to Houston,
she had no idea what to expect from the local
weather, but after attending a safety fair she
packed a go bag, just in case. After a tornado
hit her neighborhood, she was prepared. The
windows and roof of her home were dam-
aged, and she and her children had to leave
suddenly. “The go bag was in the closet. I took
the bag with us, and we used it,” she says.
Ken Persinger, who lives in Cambria,
California, and Eugene, Oregon, learned how
to pack a go bag several years ago when he
was a river guide, sleeping in a different place
along the river every night. All of his personal
items had to be kept in a highly-portable, rugged tote. He once was driven out of camp by a
massive wildfire that quickly overtook his
group, but his bag was ready to go.
Pack to your specific needs
Ever since, Persinger and his wife, Kathy,
have each kept a go bag by the door. He has
packed prescription medications, hearing aid
batteries, a solar charger for cellphones and
other electronic devices, sunscreen and a hat,
and a short checklist to remind him of things
he’ll need to grab on his way out, like the laptop he uses every day.
His bag also includes a first-aid kit, an
over-the-counter pain reliever, extra glasses,
eye covers and ear plugs (for getting sleep in a
shelter situation), a pocket
knife, headlamp, flashlight
and batteries, clothes, an N95
(respirator style) or surgical mask,
cash and even a bag for dirty laundry.
For his dog, Simon, there’s pet food
already packed in the car and a leash ready on
top of the go bag. Simon also has an implanted
chip and a tag on his collar with contact information, just in case he gets separated from the
Persingers during an emergency.
Nyquist says some people prefer to keep
their go bags in the car, and may have one at
Have a family conversation
Jim Judge, an emergency management
director with the American Red Cross in
Volusia County, Florida, and a Costco mem-
DOWNLOAD APPS THAT can help
when you need them. All of the following apps are free at the American Red
Cross website, redcross.org.
; Emergency combines more than
35 different severe weather and other
emergency alerts, with real-time
updates. You can use it to notify family
and friends, and get tips about what to
do before and after an emergency.
; Shelter Finder shows where and
when shelters have been opened
across the U.S.; information is updated
every 30 minutes.
; Monster Guard is a game for kids
7 to 11, designed to teach what to
expect and how to prepare for emergencies.
Learn more about evacuation
; FEMA provides evacuation
guidelines and information at ready.
Start preparing now
CONTINUED ON PAGE 44
Ready to go?
Creating a “go bag” for emergencies
For his dog, Simon, there’s pet food