It’s been a three-week roller coaster.
I’m supposed to be posting today, according to my plan, about the remaining top ten 2017 Pantone colors for fall. I bet you had a clue from the photo that this post isn’t about fall colors (the fashion accessory pictured here has been prevalent in Sonoma County over the past week).
No clothes, or makeup, or shoes, or jewelry this week. On my mind is what we all need to do to be prepared. (If you’d rather read something fashion-y and fun, check out this post Be Your Own Color Stylist, posted in August 2016. Use it to experiment with the new fall colors!)
Last week multiple wildfires ravaged Sonoma and Napa Counties and surrounding areas in what is being called the worst fire in California history. Fire was still burning in some areas as of yesterday, 11 days later. Thankfully, our Sonoma County city escaped the wrath of the fire, although we did begin to pack important things one night last week when it seemed like the fire was traveling our way. (Update on that: We had very welcome rain overnight and I hope it was what was needed to finish the remaining fires.)
The week prior, my mother’s husband of over 20 years, a person who was a loved member of our family, passed away.
The week before that he was admitted to the hospital. He was there for just over a week, and we were hopeful at the beginning that he would get better and be able to go back home. But his condition declined steadily.
I think the roller coaster ride is coasting and beginning to slow down. Giving me an opportunity to reflect. And, boy, the events of the past three weeks have shined a neon light on my lack of preparedness.
I am chagrined. I consider myself a fairly organized person, detail-oriented, a good manager of my and my family’s personal affairs. Despite those “admirable” traits, I am now staring in the face of my unpreparedness. Some of you might be in a similar circumstance. If that’s the case, you may appreciate a recap of what’s needed to be prepared should you ever be in the position of needing to evacuate your home. And while we are talking about preparedness, I’m throwing in being prepared for illness and death.
If you’ve taken care of all the things necessary to be prepared, I envy and admire you, and I hope you’ll come back next week to read the rest of the fall colors series. : )
Being Prepared for Evacuation
I never dreamed that we would be in the position of needing to evacuate our home with advance warning. We don’t live next to unincorporated land, or in an area that floods. If I ever thought of the concept of evacuation, it was in the context of unexpectedly fleeing a house fire, or needing to evacuate following an earthquake. So I guess the need for an evacuation plan didn’t enter my mind.
But last week, when the fire was over the hill about 5 miles away, we decided to gather some important things in the event the erratic and unpredictable fire, one that had already burned to the ground whole residential neighborhoods and developments, headed our way.
Had we had to gather important items in a panic, with no opportunity to think about it, I am sure that most of what we should take would be left behind. So, aha, we need a list!
Here’s a “Go Bag” list that I’ve created compiled from a few sources:
- A list of passwords
- Important documents (e.g., birth certificates, passports, medical records, auto records, tax documents, documents that would make life difficult if they couldn’t be replaced quickly or ever)
- Debit and credit cards, check books
- A few days’ change of clothing
- Valuable or sentimental jewelry
- Portable snacks, & water
- Devices: smart phone, computer, tablet + chargers
- External hard drive
- Pet supplies: leash, food for several days, medications, a bed if possible
- First aid kit
Here are a couple of sites with lists of items to include: “Go Bag” list from the State Department and ready.gov emergency kit. Here’s one site (there are many) that offers fully assembled emergency kits: EmergencyKits.com. It’s best to personalize your go bag. And you should pack a kit with the assumption that you may not be able to return to your home.
Obviously, the things I’d want to have are things that are irreplaceable. And it’s important to record on the list the location of items (e.g., important documents).
And though I heard more than one story about fireproof safes destroyed by these fires and their contents incinerated, I will add one to our home for files.
Being Prepared for Illness and Health Emergencies
I’ve been procrastinating for years about completing an Advance Directive for Health Care. I’m embarrassed to admit it. How silly. But, you know, it’s hard to make decisions like that. It takes some time to consider everything that needs considering prior to putting decisions in writing.
So guess what I learned? If I don’t make those decisions for myself, someone else will be put in the position of making those decisions if I am not capable. And that puts people I love in a really difficult position. And maybe they won’t choose what I’d choose for myself.
After seeing up close the power of having an Advance Directive, I am in the process of completing mine
Long-Term Care Insurance
Here’s another thing I’ve been planning in my head – and that’s as far as it’s gone. Do I sound old or what?! Long-term care insurance helps pay the cost of long-term care and generally covers care not covered by health insurance. I think of this in terms of aging, however, it can also apply in the case of a serious illness. Long-term care insurance is not inexpensive, but with people living longer resulting in the possibility of health issues in later life, this is something that I think is worth the price. I’d rather be able to pay to be cared for in my home than be faced with the necessity of, for example, a skilled nursing facility. And I certainly don’t want my children to be burdened by the cost of health care as my husband and I age. I’ve done a tiny bit of research and it seems that pricing may be better when purchased through your financial advisor rather than an insurance broker.
Preparing for When You Are Gone – Do You Have Will or Trust
There’s not a lot to say here that we all don’t know. A will or living trust is important to have in place so that your wishes are honored after you are gone. Do you want to be buried or do you prefer cremation? How will your assets be distributed to your heirs? Who do you want to choose to be executor of your will? And even more important, if you have minor children you want to be sure that you are the one who makes choices about their care if you are not there.
Something to consider with a living trust (also called a revocable trust) is that your estate will avoid probate if your assets are placed in a trust. Of course, you will want to review with an estate planning attorney what is best for your particular situation.
So . . .
I hope this post hasn’t been a downer. My intention was to share some of the things I Iearned through my recent experiences about how to be better prepared. Maybe it got you thinking about ways you and your family can be better prepared, or perhaps it will be a reminder to review what you have put in place.
I hope it’s been helpful.
See you next week when we are back to a fun topic!