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Evacuating your home

Posted by Rona Fischman  August 29, 2011 01:58 PM

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Today, Sam Schneiderman, Greater Boston Home Team asks; were you and your property really ready for what could have happened on Sunday?

We got lucky again, and Boston was spared nature’s fury for the second time this month.

Like many of us, I like to think that I was ready for the worst-case scenario. The more that I thought about it, the more I realized that my family isn’t ready to effectively deal with an evacuation of our house should it be needed. First, there are logistics to deal with. My wife and I were home. Our daughter is California. Our son was traveling home early Sunday morning. We have cell phones, but that didn’t mean that we would have service. Where would we meet? How would our daughter know we were OK? Where would we go? What about my mother-in-law in assisted living? Did we have a full tank of gas in the family car? Did that car need to be unloaded before we could reload it with supplies? Images of 9/11 survivors trying to find their families appear when I think of the worst-case scenario.

Provided that we had enough time, there would also be the issue of securing our home to prevent damage (or further damage if we had to leave due to a fallen tree or fire). Should we turn off all electricity or just some circuits? Should the alarm be armed or unarmed? Should I shut off the gas? What about the heavy box in front of the water shutoff? Could I get to the things that I would need if we left? Would I be able to notify or warn the neighbors? I realized that I didn’t even have phone numbers for some of my neighbors even though I see them regularly.

The reality is that when it comes to natural disasters, we are used to the good life in Boston. Most of us are so comfortable that we don’t take the possibility of evacuating our homes or condos seriously.

I know three families that had to evacuate their homes on short notice because of fires. Two are local families and the other is a California family that had to leave due to a forest fire that spread. Two families lost everything. The third lost almost everything.

When they talk about what they lost, the families don’t focus on their homes. They focus on their photos, books, diaries, family gifts and keepsakes. When they discuss the experience, they mention how lucky they were that their families were together at the time and how tough the experience was for their family.

Did you have a realistic plan to secure your property, collect everything you needed (medicines, passports, cash, credit cards, insurance documents, cell phones, batteries and charging devices, pets, diapers, clothes, etc.) in under five minutes and connect with your loved one(s) if you needed to evacuate?

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About boston real estate now
Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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