For over a month, we’ve been watching atrocities unfold in Ukraine. As millions of people fled their homes and country, they had little time or space to grab much more than a small bag of essentials. While it may be unlikely that we ever see that kind of humanitarian emergency here in the U.S., it had me thinking about emergency preparedness in the face of, say, a natural disaster, house fire, or a family emergency that would require one to leave in a hurry for an extended period of time. I made a mental scan of my house and realized many of the things I would need aren’t easily accessible, or their location is still unknown to me since my most recent move. These are some items to consider having ready and within reach when time is of the essence. 

Important personal documents

This includes your license, passport, birth certificate, wills, financial documents, etc. Some of these items may already be kept in a safety deposit box, but having the originals or copies in one place is key. Digital back-ups stored securely in the cloud is also a good rule of thumb. A list of updated phone numbers for family, doctors, and emergency contacts should also be included.

Necessary medication

If you’re like most people, you probably have daily medication in spots where you’ll remember to take it – prescriptions by the bathroom sink for your morning routine, headache medication tucked away in your purse or bag just in case, vitamins in the kitchen to take with a meal. You may want to consider keeping any vital medicine that is controlled and/or prescribed in one place that’s easy to grab, or at least keep a week’s worth of it together in one spot. This also goes for any medication your child or pet may need.

Personal effects

Since time is not always on our side when faced with an emergency such as a house fire, extra cash and treasured property like jewelry, heirlooms, and other invaluable items in the home would be best to keep in a fire-proof, water-proof safe when you’re not using them. 

Of course, getting yourself and your loved ones to safety is the first priority; however, with a solid emergency preparedness plan, you can stay one step ahead in times of unexpected transition. If you want to go above and beyond the simple preparations I mentioned, the American Red Cross website has tips for creating a survival kit based on your needs and possible types of disaster, plan templates, and kits for online purchase.