Wildfires have been spreading throughout San Diego County in the last few days, where the Academy offices are located. The need to pack up what we can carry and plan to evacuate our families, pets, and mementos away from our homes has caused us to take a moment to think of the things that we might not take into consideration in the case of an emergency. Here are a few things we have come up with that you can prepare ahead of time in preparation for an emergency situation:
1. Family (especially minors):
- Know where they are at all times
- Who can get to them the quickest?
- Make sure you have a list of those who are authorized to pick up children from school.
- Have an emergency code word for your children, in the case that someone other than you needs to pick them up. Be sure to also give the emergency code word to the school and the person who will be picking them up.
- Determine a couple of places ahead of time where you should meet in case of an emergency. One location should be in the immediate area and the second location should be outside of the immediate area.
- If possible, have a person who is out of state check in with everyone to make sure you are all safe.
- Who will be in charge of evacuating them?
- How will you get them out of the house and to a safe location?
3. Material Possessions:
- Make a checklist of items to grab, starting with most important items, which may include:
- Medication for family members and pets
- Debit and/or Credit Cards
- Important documents such as Social Security cards, birth certificates, marriage license, safe deposit box key, Trust documents, etc.
- Irreplaceable items such as baby books, home movies, family heirlooms
- Computers and/or external hard drive backups, tablets, chargers
- Change of clothes… don’t forget shoes
Your checklist should be given to all family members and there should also be a copy stored outside of your home (perhaps at your office or even with a relative in another state).
When creating this list, take the time to walk around the house and record everything. Open drawers and closets and document everything in them. If possible, also state the purchase date, price, make and model, and even serial number. Inventory everything in your home: the number of utensils, kitchen gadgets, towels, bedding, clothing, shoes… everything. After an emergency situation, having knowledge about what things were left behind in your home will help immensely for insurance purposes.
While the wildfires in San Diego bring this level of preparedness to the top of our minds, having a checklist and a plan in place for ANY emergency situation is imperative for everyone.
There is a quote on one of the walls at the Academy offices that reads, “The best things in life aren’t things.” In the event of an emergency, think first of your family and their safety. Everything else can be replaced. Having a plan in place will give you some peace of mind in the event that you need to enact that plan.
Our thoughts and support go out to those in our area who have been displaced from their homes. We send our most sincere hope for the safety of all and an expeditious end to the fires in San Diego.
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (800) 846-1555