Last week, the building behind my apartment was engulfed in a three-alarm fire which spread to the surrounding seven buildings, including my apartment. Thankfully, everyone inside the buildings – pets included – is safe. My roommate, who was taking a nap, woke up to the sound of things “popping” and quickly grabbed her purse and ran outside. While she had the right idea to grab her purse, it unfortunately didn’t contain a lot of the important items she needed.

When Emergency Becomes Reality

We often think an emergency such as a fire or other natural disaster will never happen to us. As I’ve learned in the last week, it’s critical that you are prepared for anything that life throws your way.

So what do you grab when your heart is racing and your mind is moving a million miles a minute? At Hillard Heintze, our security and emergency preparedness experts suggest having a sturdy bag, such as a backpack with several important items that you’ll need if you are displaced from your home.

Top 10 Items for Your Go Bag

FEMA provides a longer, more detailed list on its website, but here are the top 10 items our security experts recommend you keep in your Go Bag – a bag you can quickly grab in an emergency:

  1. Identification – Keep copies of your most important documents such as passports, insurance cards, birth certificates, proof of address and deeds in a waterproof container.
  2. Money – Copies of your credit or debit cards and cash – bills mostly under $20.
  3. Clothing – At least one set of clothes and shoes to change into.
  4. Food and Water – At least a three-day supply of water and snacks such as granola bars.
  5. Prescriptions – Keep a list of prescriptions, dosage and the reason for the prescription.
  6. First-Aid Kit and Flashlight – Make sure the flashlight is battery-operated. This will come in handy in case the power goes out.
  7. Keys – An extra set of your car and house keys.
  8. Personal Hygiene – Consider keeping a bag of small travel-size toiletries.
  9. Kids’ Supplies – Necessary items, such as diapers and formula, that your children need.
  10. Blanket – In an emergency, you never know where you might have to go or where you’ll be sleeping.  

We stress the importance of developing and practicing a corporate emergency preparedness plan, but we often forget about developing one for our home and family. Along with a Go Bag, you and your family should create and practice an emergency preparedness plan to ensure everyone knows what to do and where to meet in case of an emergency. I never thought that I would be in this situation, but I’m glad I was as prepared as I could be. With renter’s insurance, my Go Bag and the generosity of my family, friends and colleagues, being displaced from my home hasn’t been as bad as it could have been.