Right now, I'm surrounded on 3 1/2 sides by water. There's the river behind me, which is normal, and then there are the floods on both sides, up and down the street, and throughout my neighborhood. I'd say that's abnormal, but after decades of no problems at all, we've now had flooding two out of the last three years and, apparently, more to come.
I'm fine. I'm safe. But around me the streets are blocked off. Cars are banned. People have evacuated. Emergency services are all over. And there's a salvage boat floating in what used to be my backyard.
But it's not just flooding. It's wildfires in California, tornados throughout the midlands, hurricanes along the coasts, or it could be storms or earthquakes, or heatwaves or cold fronts or any of the other forces of nature that periodically remind us nature always wins.
It was Earth Day on Monday, but that's a complete misnomer. Storms, volcanos, hell, house atomics and even mass drivers from mad Titans — anything short of an anti-matter explosion big enough to rip the world in half, and the Earth is fine. The earth is swell. It'll just start over with the next thing, maybe insects, like it did after the dinosaurs.
It's us, humans and our dogs and cats and our other fragile, little, brief animal friends, up to 90% of species on the planet, that are in trouble. Just us. And we're all we have.
So, what can we do to best prepare and take care of ourselves and our families before and during times of calamity?
It used to be that some kinds of natural disasters were seasonal. Snow melting in the spring. Hurricane's picking up in the summer. Some of that hasn't changed. Some has. The point being, you're better off preparing in advance, when everything is calm and safe and you have plenty of time. Don't put it off because things can get chaotic fast. Do them asap.
Also, so I don't have to keep repeating it, links for everything in the description.
To the clouds
Make sure you have online backups of everything. Local backups are fine until the basement floods or the building burns down. Pick a service you trust, pick multiple if you makes you feel better, but make sure that everything important to you, like family photos, and critical to you and yours, like health and financial info, is safe on massively distributed data centers. Encrypt it locally before you upload it if you're concerned about security, but get it done.
Make a list of all your valuables. You might have already done this for insurance, but take that list and load it into your preferred Notes app, one that syncs to the cloud, so you can get to it if you need to, along with photographs of receipts and appraisals, if you have them. Remember, nothing undocumented exists, especially at claim time.
Keep updated photos of everything and everyone important to you, have them synced to an online service, preferably in their own folder so they're easy to find. That way, if anything or anyone important gets lost or separate, including and especially children and pets, you can provide emergency services with recent pictures to help with the finding.
We live in a remarkable age of technology. You can get sensors that monitor your home for gas, air quality, even water. Increasingly, they're connected to, so you can receive alerts from them on your phone, any time, any where, and at the very least move important items before too much is damaged, or get out before you're damaged.
Get a battery powered AM/FM radio. Phones and apps are great but cell networks can go down so you'll want the airwaves as an option. If you're super geeky, you might want to keep a ham radio handy as well. Also, some good old fashioned cards and travel games are great to keep in your stash or go bag, so you can give them out to anyone who gets easily bored and prevent them using up precious battery power on Fortnite or Kwazy Cupcakes.
You can download copies of books with survival tips and maps so you don't have to depend on data, but you probably want paper versions of anything critical so you don't even have to depend on power.
If the cell networks don't go down but the power does, you'll need as much juice as you can to stay connected. Cables too. Backups for everything you need, including wall and car chargers in case you need them. Keep them in a waterproof bag so they're functional if and when you need them.
Make sure all your contacts are up-to-date, especially for emergency services, but also for family members and friends, including social media handles. Make sure they're all synced to the cloud but also keep a written copy in case your device gets damaged or you run out of power. You can also set up Find my Friends, or whatever your preferred location sharing app is, so you have an extra avenue for finding each other even if everyone can't get to their devices.
Use Waze if you have to evacuate, no matter how creepy you might find it, since massive crowdsourcing will update faster than any centralized or even anonymized system.
I know this is way easier said than done, because even in a slow flood rather than an apocalyptic storm, I'm already way past anxious, but when and if something happens, try to stay calm. Conserve as much power as you can. Text rather than call. If one system seems down, try another. You can use social media for real-time updates and to check safety status, but don't depend on it. Check in on and collect up the people that matter to you, and follow any directions emergency services broadcast.
It may not always seem like it, especially in the moment, but everything can be replaced except for you and yours.
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