Thursday, May 6, 2010

Fire Season is approaching. Are you ready to grab and go?

With fire season starting up in California, its a good idea to dust off your grab and go bag and do a quick inventory in case you have to leave fast. You should leave your bag where it is easy to get to.

A grab and go bag should have a basic first aid kit, any medications you are on (make sure they are not expired!), flashlight, water, heavy duty gloves, protein bars, other non-perishable food, batteries, hand crank or battery powered radio, whistle to signal for help and trash bags. Check out get a kit at the Ready.gov website for a detailed list. You also should include copies of important documents like homeowners, auto, life and any other insurance policies, health insurance cards, your insurance carriers claims dept. number, your insurance agents number (if they are a local agent or may be affected by what is going, they may be in the same boat as you are, so get the claims department number for all of your policies and carriers ahead of time.), home inventory, contact phone numbers for family, friends, birth certificates and passports, drivers licenses, social security cards and bank account numbers or a recent statement.

Make sure your grab and go bag or box locks! There are lots of grab and go kits out there and for some a backpack might be easier than a duffel bag. What you need is something you can lock up and keep a key on your key ring and another in a safe place or with a family member or friend. If you go to a temporary shelter you don't want anyone to get into your stuff. Remember that you maybe in with some people who have lost everything. They could be desperate enough to steal. The advantage of a back pack or smaller bag is that you can take it with you wherever you go. Don't leave your grab and go kit unattended.

If you would like a guide to help you prepare a home inventory, you can download one from the Dept. of Insurance by clicking  here or if you would like to use a software program you can check out this free online program from Insurance Information Institute. There are many options to choose from. No matter what you do, print it out and put it in your grab and go bag, also in your safe or safety deposit box.

You might also want to think about an emergency plan for your and members of your family. You can go to the Ready.gov website and create one online. Just be sure to print it out! The site does not store your information, so if you close your browser or get timed out, you have to start over. There is also a quick share app on the site that will let you fill in a few basic things about where your meeting place for family and friends to find you, your emergency contact person and numbers, etc. A form is then generated that you can copy and paste into and e-mail and mass send it to your family, friends, co-workers or whomever you would like to share the information with. They also have some great tips for disaster preparedness.

And while your at it, don't forget to please check your smoke detector.