By Michele Maki, American Red Cross
“I never thought about it before. I never really thought about a disaster or what our family would do if something happened. But now I know better.” Jessica Bailey literally fled with her husband and 4 children when she heard rumors that the Oroville dam was failing and they had mere minutes to evacuate. Little did she know these reports were incorrect. Jessica and her family were desperate to find safe place Sunday night. It was a harrowing experience, but by Monday her family found safety with the Red Cross at the California Fair Grounds in Sacramento. However, they left with only the clothes on their backs.
While chatting with a Red Cross volunteer at the shelter, Jessica learned about the disaster preparedness programs the Red Cross offers. She learned that having a “to go” bag would have made a big difference in her family’s comfort and peace of mind.
Keep your gas tank in your car full, so you will be able to safely evacuate to an emergency shelter.
Everyone can make a simple “To Go Bag so you can be ready for an emergency, including a sudden evacuation. Here are some suggested items to pack :
* Extra chargers for your cell phone(s)
* Copies of important papers such as: lists of medication and medical conditions, copies of medical insurance cards, drivers licenses, passports, or other IDs, proof of address (if not shown on ID, such as a utility bill), copies of birth certificates, insurance policies for car and home, etc. These can even be stored on a thumb drive.
* Family and emergency contact information
* Medications (7-day supply…discuss this with your doctor) and medical items such as needed syringes.
* Change of clothing for each family member
* Sanitation and personal hygiene items (Travel size soap, shampoo, disposable razors, etc. Don’t forget diapers and formula if you have a baby!)
* Flashlight with extra batteries.
* Extra set of car keys and house keys
* Prescription glasses (When you get a new pair, slip those old lenses into your bag, just in case!)
* Extra cash (ATMs may not be online in a natural disaster)
* Have a plan for your pets too. Don’t forget their food and medical needs.
More information can be found at Redcross.org