Do you have a plan?

The other day I realized something scary. We now live in a location that can be cut off completely if there is a bushfire. The only way to get in or out of here would be by boat. We don’t happen to have a boat of our own, and the only friend we know who has one just sold it. The other half leaves in the morning for work and it is possible that he may not be able to get back here at the end of his work day. So I have been thinking that we need a plan to deal with a bushfire emergency – and I need a plan in case I am here all alone.

It’s not impossible, either. My sister almost lost her home in the bushfires over Christmas in 2005. They were visiting here when the bushfires happened – and at home by itself being fed by her partners family daily was their cat. They had to come up with a plan to retrieve the cat on the spur of the moment, and they had to enlist the help of the firefighters, who had better things to do than attempt to collect a cat from its home without even a pet carrier.

They did manage to collect the cat which was a big relief for my sister, and when they got home they saw just how lucky they had been. Within a metre of the back door, there was fire damage. The house that used to be behind them was entirely gone. Their back fence was entirely gone. She also lived somewhere that they had to evacuate people by boat. It is lucky for all involved that she was not there because she is a major drama queen at the best of times – if you put her in a life and death situation she’d fall apart completely because she does not have any resources to deal with it.

Ever since that happened, the pet carriers have never been somewhere I can’t get to them in moments, and if we have to go away the cats go to a boarding place – not just any boarding place but one which has a clear plan for dealing with any kind of emergency. It is a plan they give a copy of to people who board their cats there with emergency contact numbers, how they make decisions on whether to stay or go, the procedures they use for keeping enough food on hand to feed 20 cats for 3 months, right down to three different locations they can take all the pets to if the boarding place is at risk from fire.

After just moving house, I don’t have a lot of food in storage here. I could probably live for 2 weeks on the food in the fridge and freezer, but what if there is no power? Again the location where we live now could easily lose power for an extended amount of time if there was a bushfire.

Do you know the phone number for your insurance company and the number of your policy off the top of your head? Me either. It’s not the kind of thing I have memorized – but I have memorized the phone number of the local Chinese restaurant, and the song lyrics to many songs.. that’s not going to help me! ;) If you were away from home and something happened to your home, it is handy to have that kind of information stored somewhere.

Another thing I like about the site is that you can choose to share your plan online with other family members. Not only is this useful but it may get them thinking about creating their own emergency plan.

Consider all the people in New York after 9/11 who could not get back to their apartments – and thus their pets – for weeks. I’ve seen so many people say “I leave the toilet lid up now in case I can’t get home, so the pets can get water” but if that is your only plan for an emergency I think you’re going to find it difficult to cope in the event of an actual disaster and so will your pets. I’m going to buy one of those pet feeders where you can put a longer supply of dry cat food ASAP because pets need food as well as water!

I think it is worth considering what you’d do in the event of an emergency, and it is worth creating a plan. It is also worth regularly backing up your computer data and storing it somewhere other than your home. It is worth putting all your digital photos onto CD or DVD and sending a copy to a couple of family members. It is worth making an inventory of your books, dvd’s, and treasured items in case you ever need to replace them. You can do that photographically and I’ll write a how to on that sometime over the next few weeks.

We never like to think of what could happen but there are times that we should think about it. For those of us in Australia, now is the time to begin thinking about summer and the upcoming bushfire season. Make a plan, just in case. ;) If you never have to use it, that is fantastic – but if you do have to use it you’ll be prepared as a family.

Does your family have an emergency plan? If yes let me know in the comments.. ;)

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8 thoughts on “Do you have a plan?

  1. I have many plans. I have a folder with all our insurance information and passports (and soon will add a small unused credit card to the mix). My plan involves getting the kids (and dog) in the car, picking up hubby from work and driving as fast as I can. There’s only one road in and out, so if it’s blocked, the boat goes in the water and we try and make for the nearest big town (we have enough fuel to do that though – or at least an island with an airport). I have food (and meals) for 3-5 days without electricity (we have a gas stove and bbq) milk, dog food etc.

    At least once a year we get flooded in, and the supermarkets run out of bread and milk etc. If I have electricity I can make my own bread, I keep powdered and long life milk. We rarely lose power in the flood, and thankfully so far haven’t lost water, but it’s come close several times. It doesn’t last longer than a week so we wait it out.

    We’re also in a cyclone area, so I have plans for that too. But basically I’m not attached to anything here other than my kids – everything else can be replaced. Passports (for ID), Insurance information, Kids, Dog, Husband, Drive.

  2. Living in hurricane central (Florida) we have some sort of a plan. But, nothing compared to what we really need. We get fires here as well, but luckily they don’t tend to be in my area because it is so built up, but the berm to the Everglades is a mile away and I would suppose that if the smoke blew this way they could potentially close things down.

    The cats are ADORABLE! :)

  3. Hi there – this is Karlyn over at AxcessPoints. Thanks so much for the great review. And for the terrific comment about making the site more accessible for Australians. We’ll add that to our enhancement list and try to get it up in the next two months. We have some new features coming shortly – the ability to store copies of documents like your will or power of attorney – or photographs. And the ability to automatically back up your computer every evening so you don’t lose files due to viruses or fires or typhoons. We would love any additional ideas you or your readers have to make this useful. Thanks again!!!

    CEO, AxcessPoints

  4. I don’t currently have a plan in place, although I did years ago when the kids were small. I’m now living in a small unit, just me and L. and I’ve thought about a plan fairly often, but don’t really know where to start.Inventory of books,cd’s and dvd’s might be a beginning and making space in the “memory” suitcase so I can toss in photos off the walls sounds good too. Vital information stored in the computer and backed up on disc? Sounds good, but what exactly comes under “vital”?

  5. This is Karlyn again. Hope you don’t mind my popping in. I saw River’s question about what vital records should be kept. I recommend storing your emergency contacts, medical history for each family member, listing of where your insurance, banking, legal accounts are. You’ll be able to upload documents later – like your will, your power of attorney, photocopies of identification.

    We found during Katrina major problems when people lost everything. They couldn’t get federal assistance or access to their financial records because they had no id. They had to call every insurance carrier (there are thousands) to find out who their insurance company was. Physicians were reluctant to treat people because they didn’t know what medication they were on – or how much they were taking. Families had a hard time getting back in touch because they had lost all their contact information.

    Anyway, we have a lot of stuff on the site to help you figure it all out. Come on by!

  6. Don’t get excited Snos, it’s only a little boat, but depending on where we launch from, we could make one of 3 islands with an airport, or 2 major towns. We are surrounded by national parks, so bushfire is a threat also.

    But I grew up in Darwin, home of Cyclone Tracy. I’m prepared.

  7. River – vital is anything you don’t have memorised or would need proof to claim it on insurance. I have all my books listed online with mylibrary now but I also have plenty of photos of my bookshelves.. I need to take recent ones of my DVD’s.

    Karlyn – Having no id is a major issue. You can’t do the majority of things here in Australia without some form of ID. Medical records is another important thing to sort out and I need to do it myself. ;)

    Kin – any boat is exciting to me. ;) I don’t have one, so I have to envy! hehe ;)

    Thanks for the comments everyone!

  8. Thanks for the tips everyone. I’ll do a computer based inventory and back it up on a disc to leave with one of my kids. They are scattered all over so it’s unlikely that any disaster which affects me would also affect them.

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