Monday, August 31, 2009

California is on fire...again

I do hate to be a broken record, but we need to talk about the California Wildfires...again. As many of you may know, my grandmother was visiting my sister and I in Arizona a few years ago when the huge southern California fires forced the evacuation of thousands of homes. While my grandmother wasn't in the mandatory evacuation area, her house was only a mile from that area and the air quality was so bad she was unable to return for almost 3 weeks.

This vacation/evacuation caused a lot of problems, the first revolving around her prescriptions. When she left she thought she would stay with us for less than a week, so she put her medications in a cute pill box marked "Monday morning, Monday lunch, Monday afternoon, etc."  While it was nice to know when her medications needed to be taken, we had no idea what the medications were or what the dose was. As her doctor's office had been evacuated, we had to track down a doctor willing to go back and find her records.  Why not call the pharmacy you might ask. Well, we did.  The problem was she had a lot more prescriptions on file than she had in the pill box and we couldn't tell which were the current medications and dosages.

The second problem was her paperwork. My grandmother has a lot of paperwork related to her benefits. She has insurance documents, medicare paperwork, social security contact numbers, medicaid information. She has her government identification, her prescription benefits and a host of other documents.  All this information is required to contact government agencies to receive medical care and her monthly income.  The problem was, we didn't have any of it. We attempted to call family members still in California to have them go through her rooms and look for it, but they couldn't find it all.  Needless to say, she was worried.

So now we flash to the current fires around Los Angeles in the San Gabriel Mountains which threaten over 10 thousand homes according to major news outlets.  Included in this area are the transmission towers for all major TV and radio stations in the area. While the firefighters are doing their best to keep the fires from burning homes and property, my question is this, how many of the people and businesses in the area are prepared to evacuate? How many of them have the paperwork they need, their medications, and their emergency plan ready to implement? What will they do without TV and radio to guide their evacuation? Are they prepared?

Today's question is this: Could you evacuate your home in 15 minutes? What do you have ready to go, and what would you need to find?

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