So the old saying goes. Which, ultimately, is too true, of course. However, in the mean time, with some luck and a little advance planning, maybe you could take it with you.
The community meeting in August organized by the Skyline Grange was a timely reminder that wildfire is a fact of life for those of us living in or near the woods. And about a week later, we had a fire erupt on the ridge – a scary exclamation point to punctuate a very hot and dry summer. Thankfully, ODF and TVF&R got that one under control before it could spread into the trees.
So, we started thinking about the possibility of some day being forced to evacuate our home on short notice. What would we take with us, if we had an hour or less to leave? Gulp.
That frightening prospect focuses the mind on what’s important and what’s not. Obviously people and pets come first, with farm animals a very close second. But what about all the rest of the “stuff,” much of it accumulated over many years?
It comes down to deciding what has great personal meaning, is irreplaceable and can be easily moved, versus the stuff that could be replaced if necessary. That grandfather clock may be a family heirloom but you might not be able to get it into the back of the car in a hurry.
For us, the family photos/videos and few boxes of memorabilia would get grabbed first. Then some artworks that we have made or which have special meaning. And then the practical stuff like computer hard drives, checkbooks, passports, cameras, datebooks, etc. It would be a triage situation where things would be assigned different levels of priority, depending on how much time you had to pack your car.
A friend of ours, a former ODF fire staff person living in the woods, has a made a room-by-room list of what he and his wife want to save in an emergency evacuation. Everyone in the house knows where to find their clipboard with their assignments on where to go and what to get, printed in BIG letters. Items are color-coded by priority. They know what to do, and so are less likely to be overcome by the adrenaline rush of the moment.
Working on the list is kind of like what you do before a big household move. What can’t you live without and what is destined for the garage sale. Not the “fire sale,” we hope.
What would you take with you if you had to leave your house in a hurry?