Maintaining Calm Amid Chaos: Families Pack ‘Go Bags’ to be Ready for Natural Disasters
Two backpacks full of emergency supplies sit ready for action in John and Chloe Clayborn’s Lincoln Park living room — one “go bag” for each of them.
The Clayborns leave nothing to chance when it comes to their safety. “We don’t know when a disaster is going to happen.” Chloe said. “But being prepared as much as possible puts my mind at ease.”
With extreme weather events escalating in frequency and severity in recent years, ex-perts urge families to plan ahead for natural disasters.
Ready.gov, a FEMA website, recommends putting together a “collection of basic items” to last for several days, including food, water, a change of clothes, cash and a flashlight.
The Clayborns admit to being caught off guard a few times during severe storms while living in Puerto Rico years ago. The two have since assembled go bags, utilizing tips from the jw.org article “When Disaster Strikes — Steps That Can Save Lives.
“The contents of that bag might literally save your life,” John said.
The couple credit regular disaster-preparedness reminders through their congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Christian organization’s official website, jw.org, for helping them to keep at the ready.
“Being ready to face a natural disaster may be the difference between life and death when it unexpectedly hits,” said Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesperson for the Christian organization.
“We can’t just say life is precious; we need to live it. That’s why the Bible’s advice to take practical steps to protect ourselves and our families from danger makes so much sense — even if threats seem far off.”
In flood-prone Louisa, Kentucky, Brandon and C’onia Fitch made preparing go bags a fun activity for kids Nolan, Gavin and Stella, letting them pick out their own bags and add their favorite toys and nonperishable snacks.
“Everyone in the family had a role in preparing the bags,” Brandon said.
“They know what’s in them, and they know where to find them.”
The importance of being ‘go bag ready’ was put to the test last year when floodwaters surrounded their home in rural Appalachia.
In pitch darkness and with freezing water rising steadily in their home, the Fitches load-ed their go bags — and Princess Pickles, 6-year-old Stella’s beloved guinea pig — into the family car and drove to higher ground.
By morning, 4 feet of muddy floodwater had devastated the Fitches’ home and brought into sharp focus the true value of their efforts to prepare.
“It took a bit of the panic away,” C’onia said. “It seemed like a daunting task … but I’m so glad we did it.”
“You’re not going to regret it,” Nolan agreed, 16. “It could save your life.”
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