What would you save?

In emergency management, there are three priorities for every incident. Listed in order, they are - life safety (victims and responders), incident stabilization (getting the problem under control), and property preservation (saving what can be saved.) As we delve into preparedness, these priorities hold true as well. But in this very moment, you have the benefit of time to spare. Until the first crisis hits, you can prioritize, plan, and organize to our heart's content. At Everyday Providence, we spend a lot of 'real estate' on life safety and incident stabilization.  Let's take a look at some steps we might take to save some important items during a disaster. 

What would you save, if you could? Old photographs? The family bible? Jewelry? Your kids 'art' collection? Your wedding dress (or Mama's)? A hope chest? Your Pez dispenser collection? Books? An antique? Power tools? Your computer? A bottle of wine? And what about information lost? How easily could you compile financial, medical, insurance and historical details? Although fire is the most common household disaster, don't forget the damage caused by flooding (flash floods can hit any area), storm and wind damage, backed up sewers, theft (looting and vandalism), or sudden evacuation.

Take a minute to consider what and how you might save important and precious items in a fire, earthquake, flood or evacuation. Keep copies of legal records in a fire safe, at a bank safety deposit box, in another location, or on a flash drive. Scan photos, albums, and scrapbooks and save them on online. Anchor large items to walls to prevent them overturning in an earthquake (or onto a mischievous child.) Prioritize antiques and irreplaceable items now, so that you aren't forced to think it through under the pressure of an evacuation. You may also consider home safety monitoring, home fire suppression (sprinklers), and a talk with your insurance agent about coverage needs.

Talk to your family (and neighbors?) about these needs and desires.  You may not be home when disaster strikes.  Your husband, children or babysitter may not value the same things you do.

Always keep safety first and never re-enter an unsafe building. Fire, earthquake, major structural damage, water, hazardous fumes and gas may all prevent you from safely entering your home.  I know a woman who, after assuring that her family was safe, returned inside her raging, burning home to rescue old photos and grandma's handmade quilt. Her house was a total loss, and these are basically all she has left. But what a terrible price she could have paid.

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