Include a document pack in your bug-out-bag

If your home is severely damaged after an earthquake or waterlogged from a flood, all your identity, insurance and asset documents could be lost. Even if your home stays intact, there may not have time to gather these should you have to evacuate for any reason. One often overlooked item of a emergency kit or bug-out-bag is a document pack. This is where you can keep copies of all your important documents, along with contact numbers and photographs of your family. Remember to place these in a waterproof bag. (If possible, they should also be in a fireproof bag but unfortunately, I have not seen these for sale in the Philippines. If anyone knows where these can be purchased, please let me know.)
Image of an emergency document pack for your bug-out-bag
Emergency document pack containing important documents
Example contents for your emergency document pack include:
  • Passports and ID cards
  • Medical history, immunization records and list of medications
  • Photographs of each family member with names
  • Birth, baptismal and marriage certificates
  • Social Security and TIN numbers
  • Property deeds
  • Insurance documents
  • Bank account, financial details and investments
  • Wills and trusts
  • Emergency plan
  • Address and telephone number listing
  • City map and route to your bug-out location
  • Cash in large and small notes
Remember that this pack will contain confidential information. If lost, these could be used for identity theft or fraud. One way to protect against this is to write certain things in code. For example, you can include dummy numbers to obscure your real bank account number or code words for important locations. This way, even if Manila is faced with a complete disaster or catastrophe, you can at least make it easier to rebuild your life. You will have less difficulty proving who you are to the authorities and you'll have a record of your assets. Continue Reading

Prepare for emergencies to avoid disasters

Chart of emergency, disaster and catastrophe event escalation The other week, Pinoy Prepper and I were discussing the overuse of the word 'disaster' within our circles. We concluded that the reasons range from an unfamiliarity with definitions to a purposeful attempt to 'upgrade' the event. It turns out that when a situation is classed as a disaster, more funding is made available to local government and relief organizations. For those who are unaware, the security, risk and emergency management professions have three main classifications for events, each with specific meanings and escalating levels of impact: emergency, disaster and catastrophe. I used these terms interchangeably before getting involved in this field but soon found out that they have different implications.
  • Emergency: An emergency is any expected or unexpected event that puts life or property in danger. It needs immediate response but can be handled using the normal resources and infrastructure of the community.
  • Disaster: When an event is so disruptive that the affected community requires significant outside help, it becomes a disaster. It may be natural or man-made and related to loss of life, deterioration of health, or damage to infrastructure and services.
  • Catastrophe: A catastrophe is the result of a disaster so severe that the community ceases to exist or its continued survival is drawn into question.
As the severity of an event escalates, its classification is also upgraded. Generally, individuals, households and communities can deal with emergencies themselves. Disasters and catastrophes, on the other hand, require national governmental and international aid.

Focus on emergencies

Pinoy Prepper commented that the emphasis on disasters and disaster preparedness implies a more reactive mindset. It's far better, he said, to focus on emergency preparedness. When you look back and review the definitions, you'll find that this makes a great deal of sense. While emergencies are sometimes unavoidable, being prepared can prevent them from turning into full-blown disasters. Furthermore, even during what would be called a disaster for your neighbors or community, you may merely have to deal with an emergency. I'll give you an example to clarify this. Let's say that a huge earthquake strikes Manila. It devastates the city, knocking out utilities and paralyzing every-day services. For those who had been diligent in their preparations, the event may be limited to an emergency situation that can be managed until things return to normal; perhaps the have supplies to last or the means to evacuate to another location. Furthermore, if enough people in Manila had prepared, then a potential disaster can be averted by preventing the situation from escalating. The situation becomes manageable for the city as a whole because fewer people need assistance. Thus, the best way to avoid disasters is to prepare for emergencies. Continue Reading

5 basic steps to start on the road to preparedness

The Survival Mom blog offers five baby steps for newbies on how to start on their preparedness journey:
  1. Plan for a Short-Term Emergency
  2. Prepare Your Vehicle
  3. Get Smart About Potential Disasters
  4. Get Home, No Matter What
  5. Develop a Mindset
You can read the rest of the article here where you can find links to more detailed postings. For many people new to preparedness, the task may seem daunting as there's so much to learn and do. Just the expense alone can make people give up as they feel they don't have the budget to be 'fully prepared'. My advice is to relax, start simply and build up your preparations over time. The world is unlikely to collapse around you tomorrow but every little thing you do today can only make you better off than you were yesterday. Continue Reading

The emergency plan card – an important tool for reuniting your family

Two important parts of your family emergency plan are having an out-of-town contact person and setting meeting points should members be separated during the event. However, you might not be able to recall important telephone numbers and addresses due to high stress. Even if you keep details in a phone or personal organizer, these may be lost, damaged or discharged at the time you need them most. One solution is distribute emergency plan cards amongst your family. These should contain the essential elements of your plan and be kept with them at all times. Feel free to use the Emergency Plan Card template which you can find in the Resources section. Go ahead and download, print and give copies to all your friends and family.

How to use the emergency plan card

I've kept the template simple and fairly free-form so you can customize it to suit your own plan. Simply cut it out and fold down the middle to create a small business card-sized booklet. The front page should contain your out-of-town contact telephone numbers and meeting place locations. The back can contain special notes about the plan itself. There will be a blank space for the middle pages where you put anything you want, such as reminders, procedures or other important telephone numbers.
Sample Emergency Plan Card
Emergency Plan Card with sample information
Download the Emergency Plan Card template.

A digital emergency plan card for iOS devices

Download Emergency Plan for iPhone on the App Store
Update 10 April 2014: There is now an iPhone app version of a paper-based emergency plan card called Emergency Plan for iPhone. It has an advantage that your phone stays updated as part of your every-day use so is more likely to have your contacts' latest details. Of course, a disadvantage is that it's unusable if your battery is dead but its usefulness is more for the immediate aftermath of a crisis.
A digital emergency plan card: Emergency Plan for iPhone
A digital emergency plan card: Emergency Plan for iPhone (download)
Apple iPhone and iPad users can download it on the App Store. For more details, see the developer's site. Continue Reading