The many natural disasters that have already occurred this year inspire me to evaluate and redouble my preparedness efforts.

Winter storms in some areas were record-breaking. Tornadoes wreaked terrible destruction. Drought and floods have been devastating. Wildfires plagued both coasts.

Can you imagine the fear of having to evacuate before they reached your home?

I heard one newscaster say "they" were looking forward to hurricane season because it would bring enough moisture to stave off the drought and put out remaining fires.

Ask yourself, if I had to evacuate my home within five minutes, do I have something packed and ready to go?

It would be wise to make an emergency preparedness list and post it by all of the exits in your home. In the stress of the moment, you may not remember everything.

Title your list, "What to be sure to take with us in an emergency." Divide it into three categories:

Section 1 — Take our 72-hour kits. Do you have food, water, emergency aids, first-aid/hygiene items, prescriptions and a change of clothing packed? If not, start working on it. Glean items from within the walls of your home first. Systematically budget for additional necessities. Include items that will help sustain life, tide you over until help arrives, or lessen your stress if you had to live in an emergency shelter for a few days.

Section 2 — Things to do before we leave home. If there is time before you leave, and if instructed to do so:

Shut off water, gas and electricity. (Remember: If you shut them off unnecessarily, it may be a long time before utility crews can turn them back on.)

Leave a note telling others when you left and where you are going.

Think about your pets; they may not be allowed in public shelters.

Take your cell phone and charger.

Lock your house.

Section 3 — If there is time. In case our home lies in destruction's path, what should we take with us? (Suggestion: family photos, keepsakes, heirlooms or art treasures.) Prior to a disaster, compile a short list of items that you would want to be sure to take with you if you could. Be specific. Describe locales. Grab keepsakes only after you have completed the first two sections. Do not put your lives in jeopardy. Much is replaceable, lives are not.

Family photos (blue box — top of mom's closet).

Family history/genealogy (brown suitcase — den closet shelf).

Great-grandma's locket (gold box — Jolene's top drawer).

Grandpa Max's carving (John's top shelf).

Antique painting (east living room wall).

Computer (office).

There are a few other things that I do nightly. I make sure each person has shoes and a flashlight at their bedside. It would be dangerous to try to evacuate barefoot, in the dark, throughout a debris-strewn home. I store water and MREs under each bed.

Before bed, I hang my purse on the bedroom doorknob. That way, even in the dark, I'll know where it is. At day's end, when I take off my glasses, I hang them on the outside pocket. (If you leave them on the nightstand, they may slide off and bounce in an earthquake. Consider where to put hearing aids/dentures if you wear them.)

I use a seven-day, multihour pill box for prescriptions, vitamins, minerals, nutrients, etc. Before retiring, I also make sure that the next day's pill container is in my purse. (I also keep a month's worth of physician's samples in my 72-hour kit.) By doing these few things, I can "rest in peace" and so will you!


Jolene Parker, the "Food Storage Lady," is the author of "A Practical, Affordable, Do-able Approach to Emergency Preparedness." You can send questions or ideas to her at thefoodstoragelady@sfcn.org. Call 801-756-9223 to order her book.