Ten Minute Warning: Save What’s Important

A wildfire burns out of control in Bastrop state park in Texas Photograph: Larry W. Smith/EPA

Texas has been battling numerous wildfires across the state over the past several days.  Yesterday, I watched a news report detailing how people living in one of the threatened communities near Austin were given a 10 minute warning to get out of their houses. And then, as predicted, many of those homes were engulfed in flames 10 minutes later. The reporter listened to people explain how they just had time to grab the necessities before fleeing, such as their wallets, credit cards and purses.

This morning’s Dallas Morning News showed a picture of a man who was packing in response to a warning to clear out of his house. He was loading a mounted buck’s head into his truck. I thought, “Really? You consider that most important to save in threat of fire?” Surely, he had more than 10 minutes to consider his prized possessions or else a hunting trophy (small at that) wouldn’t be amongst them. However, being faced with an imminent threat some of us might go a bit crazy — scared to leave things that really aren’t that precious, but are our “stuff” all the same.

The thought of losing everything in a fire is frightening and foreign at the same time. Yet each time I watch the news or read the paper, I see stories of people who are left to pick through the remains of a tragedy and it makes me focus on what is most precious. Certainly, there are items that I want to protect and keep near. But most of those are precious because of the memories tied to them. Memories of people and shared experiences. Most of those are in my pictures, split between my laptop, desktop and an external hard drive. That’s a lot to try and gather in a panic.

So, I now plan to  reprioritize some of my time and begin consolidating them to one piece of hardware. At the same time, I will search for the best virtual storage solution, so that if I lose the hardware, they are still out there on some other server and can be accessed over the Internet.

That future problem solved, I am left to consider what else I would consider most important to gather before fleeing. My grandmother’s ring? Our important documents? My laptop with my stories on it?

I’m going to spend time over the next several weeks getting my house in order. Preparing for an emergency I hope I never have to experience. But if I do, I will have a few less things to worry about.

What about you? Assuming your precious family is safe, what is at the top of your list to save? Do you have an emergency plan in place? What will you grab in 10 minutes or less?

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3 comments on “Ten Minute Warning: Save What’s Important

  1. I really want the firefighters and Mother Nature to get these state fires under control. All summer long has been scary in the state of Texas.

    What is at the top of my list to save? Obviously me and my guy, our three animals, my grandmother’s wedding ring, and my laptop and flash drive. In that order. When the tornadoes were ripping through town a few months ago, I was in the bathroom with my animals, my grandmother’s ring on my finger, my cell phone in one hand and my flashdrive in the other. My guy wouldn’t join me – he thought I was being silly. I don’t think so.

    I’ve also heard the recommendation to walk through your house taking pictures or video for insurance purposes….just in case.

  2. We have been very blessed here where we live. The odd tornado or hurricane comes through but no disasters that some states like Texas and California experience.

    I need to do what you said. Get my photos and important papers backed up and saved somewhere I don’t have to worry about saving them from a fire or tornado.

    The most important things is my husband and daughter and after them our animals. I have accepted we probably would lose some animals, there’s just too many: cats, dogs, rabbit, gerbils, frilled lizard, frog, and fish.

    Some are by windows and doors so possibly we may get them out. I thought if we could just get doors open even the difficult cats would run out. I just pray we never have to face that.

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