Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about decluttering your pantry, and one of the things I discussed was keeping food for emergencies. I commented that I live in an area that is not affected by many sudden disaster such as being snowed in, flood water, hurricanes, or tornadoes. Well God and nature decided to prove me wrong in short order. Here’s one I had not considered and has suddenly been the only topic of conversation in our town: wildfires.
Texas had its hottest summer ever and, in fact, was the hottest state in the United States this year. It also hasn’t rained more than a tiny bit in months and months. Suddenly fires broke out all around Austin. Did I think I was immune from disaster? Ha! My friends the Jacksons and the Fosters surely didn’t think so as they were evacuated out of their neighborhood, and neither did my friend Jennifer as she watched the Bastrop fire, so close to her house, but always moving away from her. Several of her friends were not so fortunate, and their homes burn to the ground.
We live extremely close to the largest park in the city of Austin, which is intersected by a creek surrounded by a wide, unkempt natural area called the Barton Creek Greenbelt. Because this greenbelt is park of a public park and is located virtually in the center of Austin, it attracts hundreds of visitors every day. Many of these people smoke and some, unfortunately, toss their butts into the dry vegetation. In addition, there are a handful of (illegal) homeless encampments on the greenbelt. These folks often have (illegal) cooking fires. In other words, the fires have acutely reminded us that 1) we’re sitting right next to a tinder box and 2) that its been so dry and windy that a fire that starts on the greenbelt won’t stay on the greenbelt. This 50 second video shows how fast the fire moved through Bastrop State Park.
When we learned that the Fosters and Jacksons had to leave their homes, Dan and I talked about what we would need to take in an evacuation. What does this have to do with decluttering, you may be asking yourself? One: You have to know what you need. Two: You have to be able to find it. Three: You have to be able to pack it. Four: Decluttering and organizing can help you with this.
One: You have to know what you need. This is my own list. It did not come from a Red Cross or other emergency management source. It’s what my family needs to take and what’s important to us.
- All of Clara’s medications and diabetes paraphernalia, of which there is a lot. (The number one reason that evacuees return to their home is because they forgot medication.) In addition, I always have a month’s worth of supplies on hand. Without repeated daily injections of insulin, Clara will die. There’s no way I’d risk that by letting my supplies get too low. Ever.
- The dogs on leashes and wearing their identification
- The cats in their carrier and wearing their identification
- The guinea pig in a box
- All of our important papers in our fire proof safe. There is also $500 in small bills stored in here for emergencies. (And not for household-type “emergencies.” For real emergencies, such as an evacuation.) Our papers include passports, our marriage license and my divorce decree, and our wills. (While we obviously don’t need our martial or divorce papers while we’re fleeing a disaster, they are needed for lots of legal documents, and I certainly don’t want to have to come up with copies later.)
- My laptop
- My purse (with cell phone) and Dan’s wallet and cell phone
- A working vehicle that is not left with an empty gas tank
If we have more time
- Food and water for the animals
- Food and water for people
- Sleeping bags and pillows
Two: You have to be able to find it.
Do you know where these important things are? Are your keys scattered around the house, not where they belong? Do you know where the cat carrier is? Are your animals properly tagged? You’ll be heartbroken if you get separated. What about those important papers? They really should be in one easily accessible place. The safe we have is a very small suitcase that’s fire proof, water proof, and portable. (Some people in Bastrop have been able to return to their charred homes, and there have been photos of people opening their fireproof safes. Nice to know that they work.)
Three: You have to be able to pack it.
Where are your suitcases or sturdy boxes? Can you access them? Some people were only given 15 minutes to get out of their homes. You don’t want to spend 10 minutes of your 15 digging through your storage shed looking for a suitcase. Clara’s medical supplies are kept in plastic storage drawers. I realized that a box would be the best way to carry these. I got a box from the garage and left it by her supply cabinet. I always keep one or two large moving boxes in my garage. I have room to store them, and they’re just too handy to get rid of.
Four: Decluttering and organizing can help you with this.
Obviously, if you don’t know where things are, if they’re heaped behind other things, if they’re dropped randomly around the house, valuable time will be lost.
You can check this link for a photolog of the drought in Texas and the fires that resulted from it.
If you feel motivated to make a charitable donation to help those affected by the fires, Lutheran Social Services, a wonderful non-profit where I worked for four years, has an active, on-the-ground response. www.lsss.org/disaster-response
Today’s Declutter Item
Better known as hubby’s fat jeans they no longer fit because he has lost about 15kgs since Christmas. He got to that weight several months ago and has managed to maintain it without any problems. Mind you he is not allowed to ever gain it back because clothes are expensive. 😉
Something I Am Grateful For Today
Once again it was a glorious day here yesterday. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and there was just enough breeze to dry my linen on the clothesline. I had coffee and a chat with a good friend of mine and then took a walk around my neighbourhood. What’s not be be grateful for in that.