Monday, February 26, 2007

Tip: Prioritize

OK, if you aren't very "emergency prepared," I can relate. I wasn't either for a long time. In fact, I remember standing in a Walmart check out line astonished at the amount of batteries and fuel the guy in front of me was buying. "Wow, he must be planning a big camping trip," I said to the checkout clerk when it was my turn for my purchases.

She looked at me like I had a big hornet on my nose. "Uhhhhh, no." Long pause. Confused look in my direction. "Uh, he's buying that for the hurricane."

"The hurricane," I asked, still cutely bemused.

Now I must have had two hornets on my nose, because I will never forget the look she flashed me. "UH, yeah, the hurricane. Like the category 5 hurricane heading right for us in two days!"

"Wow," was about all I could muster. Sheepishly I paid for my purchases and hurried home. I flipped on the weather channel. Where had I been? With all the evacuations? With all the plywood-purchasing-people scurrying home? How had I missed it all?

Actually I knew how I'd missed it. I rarely watch TV or (during that time) read the newspaper. And somehow I now had a hurricane 5 barreling down, making a beeline for my home town.

The next 36 hours were crazy. I didn't have anything ready. My important papers were scattered in various places, drawers and files and boxes in the garage, etc. I didn't have 72 hour kits ready for my family. I didn't have any of my creative works ready to take in an evacuation, let alone photos, etc.

Fortunately for us (and quite sadly for others) the hurricane suddenly veered, just two hours from striking my area. But I learned my lesson the very-nearly-hard way. Getting prepared slowly and consistently is far better than freaking out and throwing everything in a basket. Definitely NOT the way to do things.

So here's quick tip: Get Prepared Now! Write down the top five or six priorities of what you'd just die if you lost in a storm. (Hint: you might start with your children, husband, and dog. ) Put those priorities on individual index cards. Then place them in order of importance (after your family, of course).

Tape the first card to the fridge. Every time you walk by that card, you'll be reminded that you're working on that priority. Perhaps it's finding all your important papers and putting them in a ziploc/waterproof bag. Perhaps it's finishing that scrapbook with the one of a kind photos (that then goes in the trunk of your car if you needed to evacuate). Perhaps it's rounding up all of your photographic negatives and placing them in a safe deposit box at the bank.

Whatever the priority is, keep on the first one until it's done. Set a deadline so you don't become complacent. Reward yourself when you've accomplished your goal. Then tape the next card to the fridge and begin working on that priority (maybe it's mailing a copy of your important papers to your out-of-state contact or maybe it's creating 72 hours kits for each family member or car or kid's backpack, etc.).

When you've completed all five or so priorities, pat yourself on the back. You'll be in a much better place than I was back in 2004!

Remember: Emergency Preparedness is a lifestyle, not a one time event!

Summary: Prioritize your emergency prep needs and get started today completing each one, one at a time!

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