Rita Hodges

Extension service

With the wildfires across Texas and the need for quick evacuation, the importance of emergency preparedness is emphasized.

Everyone should have individual and family evacuation plans in place. Planning should include all members of the family. Keep in mind that an emergency plan may be different for every family, yet there are common elements. It is critical that each family have a planned evacuation arrangement and an evacuation grab-and-go box ready for emergencies.

Your box should include:

• Cash or traveler’s checks for several days’ living expenses

• Rolls of quarters

• Emergency phone numbers for family, doctors, pharmacies, financial advisors, clergy, repair contractors

• Copies of prescriptions; children’s immunization records; health, dental and or prescription; insurance cards or numbers; auto, flood, renter’s or homeowner’s insurance policies (at least the policy numbers); insurance company telephone numbers; deeds; titles; wills and or trust documents; durable power of attorney; healthcare directives; stock and bond certificates; recent investment statements; home inventory; birth, death, adoption and marriage certificates; passports and other identity documents; employee benefit documents; first two pages of previous year’s federal income tax returns; and backup copies of computerized financial records

• Keys to safe deposit box

• Combination to safe

• Personal photos

• Computer user names and passwords

• List of numbers to include Social Security, bank account, loan, credit card, driver license and investment account

• List of debt obligations, due dates and contact information

Ask an out-of-state friend or relative to secure:

• Paper or digital copies of documents in your grab-and-go box

• Emergency contact information (including emails and cell phone numbers)

• Contact list for heirs and advisers

• Copies of documents in safe deposit box

Informing friends and family about your evacuation plan is beneficial in case of injury or if families become separated. Having others aware of your plan will reduce anxiety during stressful situations. It is also beneficial to prepare an emergency contact card for each family member to keep on his or her person. This card should contain contact information for all household members, an out-of-town contact and other key emergency and medical providers. A printable form for preparing emergency contact cards can be downloaded at http://www.redcross.org/prepare/ECCard.pdf

Planning and preparing can prevent the unexpected from becoming a harsh reality. Taking the time prior to the emergency to prepare and organize important papers and documents will save you from unwanted stress and chaos in the case of a disaster.

For more information, contact Rita M. Hodges, county extension agent for family and consumer sciences, 701 S. Interstate 35E, Suite 3, Waxahachie; call 972-825-5175; or email rmhodges@ag.tamu.edu.