Do you have a good plan for your personal safety in an emergency?

The firestorm in Southern California highlights the importance of being prepared in case of a sudden emergency. Here are a few things to do now, while you have time. This post focuses on evacuation plans.

  • Know at least two ways out from every room in your home or office.
  • Pre-plan where your family or colleagues should go if an evacuation happens. Have a primary location and a back-up, since the emergency may keep you from getting certain places.
  • Make sure that your plan takes into account what people who are not there should do, such as if someone is at work or school and others are at home. Designate a Plan A and Plan B to reconnect. Also keep in mind that communication may be interrupted. Sometimes a relative in a distant location is a good point of central coordination.
  • What are your ways out if roads are closed? How will you get to your designated place to go in case of emergency?
  • What are your truly prized possessions? Digitize important photos and papers. If you have something like a wedding dress or any other object that is of great sentimental value, make sure it’s easily grabbed and packed if you have to make a quick exit.
  • Make copies of insurance papers, property records, essential bank records and phone numbers/addresses of key contacts and put them in your “go bags.” Most important is your home insurance information.
  • Take photos of every room in your home, plus your garage or any other space, and have those in your go bag or stored in the cloud. This will be helpful, especially for insurance purposes if your home is damaged or destroyed. You can create an inventory from these images.

For checklists and other useful information on how to prepare ahead for any emergency, visit

For more on home fire safety and planning for emergencies, here is a post that I wrote a few months ago. It includes advice from the New York City Fire Department that is especially useful if you live in a high-rise building.