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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Emergency Preparedness Step #14- If You Haven't Already Done So, Start a Control Journal

This is my final emergency preparedness task for you to complete.  Credit for the control journal idea goes to The FlyLady (Maria Cilley).  It is also called a household notebook in some circles.  In this post, I'll simply be asking you to assemble some papers together for your emergencies into the control journal.  It will not take you nearly the amount of time that you think it will, I promise, even if you haven't a clue what a control journal is right now.  Please read my previous post if you need an idea of what's good to keep in a control journal all of the time:

http://lizturquoiseeyes.blogspot.com/2012/06/what-i-keep-in-my-office-in-bag.html

If you haven't thought of it before, realize that not all emergencies will be weather-related.  Some are medical in nature and some of them may happen to the main man/woman of the household, which I know is likely to be you, dear reader!  Medical emergencies often throw people and families into a tizzy because no one is prepared to deal with them in advance.  Now of course you cannot be prepared for any and all problems that will arise, but you can do an amazing amount of preparation with a minimum amount of effort and time.  If you haven't already done it, type up and include a medical/surgical history page for the control journal, including your/your family member's full name, address and phone number at the top.  On this page, list when and what type of surgeries they've had, what if any medications they are on and in what dosage, recurring/chronic health conditions, any and all allergies (food and medication).  Put the name, address and phone number of their primary (family) doctor on it and include the same information for any specialists or psychiatric doctors that they see on a regular basis- once a year or more, that is.  This information is something that should be saved in your documents on your computer.  Don't include a Social Security number on it (they can get that later from you or from the patient themselves if needed), but do give a copy of it to any medical and/or emergency personnel that treat them, especially if they are not familiar with their medical history.  For yourself, I recommend that you carry a copy of this in your glove compartment or (if you work outside the home) in a locked work cabinet.  If you were in a car wreck or had an emergency medical problem come up at work, this information is incredibly helpful to medical staff and may be absolutely necessary info to have if you cannot speak in the event of an emergency like this.  Even when a medical emergency happens to someone besides yourself in the household, you or your spouse could be in so much shock or worrying so much about the situation at hand that you could neglect to give paramedics or ER staff a vital piece of medical history on the person who's being treated.  Make sure that all of your medical/dental insurance cards are up-to-date and in a safe but easy-to-access location.  Carry your medical insurance card with you everywhere.  If you lose it, immediately request a replacement card from the insurance company (there's no charge for this).   

For yourself and any other adults in the household, I strongly suggest writing out and getting signatures for a durable power of attorney/living will.  You'll most likely have to get it signed by two other people and at least one of them needs to be someone who will not financially benefit from your death.  I've talked about the necessity of having this document before in my blogs and I continue to feel very strongly about filling this out now.  This paper documents what you want done in the event that you're incapacitated, what your wishes are regarding life support, who in your family can make medical decisions for you should you be completely unable to do so yourself and (at least in some documents) your general funeral wishes.  You can keep it in a file cabinet along with any life insurance information you have or you can keep a copy of it in your control journal- it's up to you.  I don't think that filling this out is morbid- it's smart.  You cannot be prepared for emergencies without facing facts and naturally, death is a fact of life.  Please do this for yourself or you could end up having people make decisions for you that you really don't want should you become incapacitated or die suddenly.  I don't care what age or health that you're in- take care of this!  Any special requests you have about your own funeral, what you want done with particular possessions or who you'd want your children to go to in the event of your death all need to be in writing and preferably done in accordance with the legal guidelines for your particular area which will make all of that fully binding.  Yes, you may think that this goes above and beyond a 72-hour emergency plan but I really don't think that it does.  Even in what many would think of as rather minor weather-related disasters, sadly at least one person usually dies during the event.  Remember that almost no one ever thinks, "This is my last day on earth.  I'm ready to go now and I'm completely prepared." 

For weather-related emergencies, make sure you have any and all evacuation plans in your control journal or at least all in one safe place (you could keep it without your household emergency supplies, for example).  The control journal is a good place to store instructions on how to turn off gas, electric, water, major appliances, etc.  Include directions out of town on multiple highways, back roads, etc.- you don't know what traffic will be like if there's a local or national emergency, so plan to have several different ways out of town mapped out.  If you have specific family or friends that you'd be staying with in an emergency, include directions to their home in this journal.  I suggest mapping out two routes to their home using different roads (if at all possible) via Rand McNally, Google or MapQuest. 

One more thing- help protect your expensive electronics and appliances with surge protectors on each.  This has nothing to do with a control journal, but I want to throw it out there while I'm thinking of appliances and major utilities!

Well, that's all on this topic for now.  I hope that this series of tasks has proved helpful to you.  Please let me know if you have any suggestions on this topic or have a request for more information.

Here's to being a prepared organized minimalist,
Liz

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