Maintaining Calm Amid Chaos: Families Pack ‘Go Bags’ to be Ready for Natural Disasters
“None of us are immune to disasters,” said North Florida resident Perry Dorch. “We enjoy the good weather when it’s here. But when it’s bad, we’re ready for that too.”
Perry and his wife Carolyn leave nothing to chance when it comes to their safety. Two backpacks full of emergency supplies sit ready for action in their home — one “go bag” each. “You have to be able to function and take care of yourself so that you can take care of other people,” said Carolyn.
With extreme weather events escalating in frequency and severity in recent years, experts 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.
After Hurricane Michael struck Florida on October 10th, 2018 as a category 5 storm, the Dorchs drove 60 miles and volunteered as first responders in the areas hardest hit by the storm. Items they had packed in advance like water, a tarp, battery powered fans and ponchos proved indispensable as they lived and worked without power and running water while providing aid.
The Dorchs credit regular disaster-preparedness reminders through their congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses and on 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.”
Until recently, Michael and Crystal Brook only thought of wildfires as a threat to those high on the slopes of the Rockies and the Mid-West — never imagining that their suburban home in the foothills would be at risk.
Last December, their efforts paid off when the Marshall Fire, a record-breaking inferno fueled by drought conditions and high winds, ravaged homes and businesses in Boulder County.
As flames leapt across the interstate highway near their home and billows of smoke darkened the midday sky, the Brooks grabbed their go bags, along with pillows and stuffed toys to help keep 6-year-old daughter Annastyn calm amid the chaos of evacuating their community.
Michael recalls the panic within the community. “They didn’t know what to do,” he said.
Though the Brooks’ house sustained only minor smoke damage, and their go bags went unused, the couple feel being prepared helped them remain calm and act swiftly under pressure. “Having the go bags made things simple,” said Michael.
“These days, anything can happen anytime, anywhere,” added Crystal. “It’s good to be prepared.”