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My wife and I have devised some plans to prepare for evacuation, disaster, etc. While not 100% implemented, yet, I thought I'd share what we've ...

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    Disaster Preparedness - some tips

    My wife and I have devised some plans to prepare for evacuation, disaster, etc. While not 100% implemented, yet, I thought I'd share what we've decided on, and invite others to add their tips/thoughts/comments.

    We moved to our current location a year after a massive forest fire caused the entire community to evacuate. From the stories I've heard, it's all about being the first one out the door. Only 13,000 people took over 18 hours to get out of town on one road - most of the congestion and traffic started several hours after the evacuation notice. Thus, we have a 'graded approach'.

    To make any of this effective, you need to think things through and consider your unique situation and philosophy!

    1) Build a master list of important stuff to take. This has to be in order of priority. Priority should be based on personal worth and ability to be moved in the given time. We have our lists organized by importance, then broken into times. For example, a house fire forces immediate retreat - after family members, we have two boxes with handles that can be dropped out the bedroom window quickly.

    This list is printed and laminated, and kept by our car keys next to our garage door. On the next revision, we will assign particular items between ourselves to better organize. We plan to revisit the list every year when we replace smoke alarm batteries.

    2) Take a visual inventory of your home and belongings. With digital cameras being so cheap, this is a very easy way to catalog your home for insurance purposes. We have begun photographing and annotating our stuff, with backups on DVD going to a safe deposit box. I'm thinking about using Gmail to backup as well, though I'm not convinced of the security. Our family room took about 30 mintues to cover CDs and movies, electronics, books and furniture. I'm gonna hate doing the storage unit and garage...

    3) I am ordering removable firewire hard drives that will be setup as mirrors to my current system, as well as resurecting an old tower for 'remote' storage. The old system will have a wireless card and a LAN harness, placed at the opposite end of the house from the daily-use system. It will be a ghosted setup at first, though I am looking into better ways to do this. I'm also considering a laptop, and again will consider GMail for portable, critical information. If anyone has a secure online service or solution, please share the information!

    4) Evacuation Kits - flashlights, batteries, local maps, etc. In my area, we are mostly concerned with forest fires, so our kit is suited for about 24 hours and has some camping gear... water purifier tablets and pump, LED flashlights, sleeping bags and tent, multi-fuel camp stove, basic cookware, and some canned and dried foods, and a first-aid kit. Coming from California where shelter-in-place is a big deal for earthquakes, we realized we would probably find lodging within a day by simply leaving. All this fits into one plastic tub kept by our cars.

    5) Overnight bags in each closet, and a travel toiletry kit in the bathrooms. Lists of current medications as applicable.

    (...continued...)

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    (...going on...)

    6) Practice! At least one time, go through your procedures to get a reality check on the time when you are calm and patient. When the time actually comes, you'll have a better idea of just how long you need. We plan to do this for immediate, and 2-hour notices. Our goal is to take less than one hour for planned evacuations to help avoid traffic. We are pretty lucky in that there are lots of 4wd roads around us, so I've done several to see how long, difficult, and how much gas each takes.

    Also, it helps to know what will and won't fit in your vehicles!

    7) Pets - we usually take our dogs' collars off at night due to the noise of the tags. Hanging on our bedpost are elastic collars that fit over their heads, with duplicate tags. We are also going to get them microchipped, and place cards in the front window stating what types and how many animals are inside. One of the overnight bags has spare leashes. We also keep food in a large restaurant-quality tub in the garage, easily stashed in the car.

    8) Share your plans with friends and family! If you know of impending danger, let people know where you plan to go, and how they can reach you. If you have cell phones, this is much less of a problem, but remember that repeaters will be absolutely jammed in an emergency. Better to fire off an email if time permits - so create an emergency notification list rather than try to decide on and hunt down the addresses you need.

    9) Household communications are extremely important. We have a couple of alternatives in place for meeting up if we get separated. Since we don't currently use cell phones, this is high priority. We also have decision plans for who picks up the baby from day care based on sets of circumstances. One scenario calls for the wife to pick up the baby and leave town immediately, while I gather the dogs and household stuff and catch up later at a hotel.

    10) Survival attitude! Like being lost in the woods, you stand a much better chance of coming out intact if your head is in the right place. There will be time for pondering losses after you and your family are safe. If all the heads are accounted for, you've done your job - the rest is gravy.

    Overall, we realized we really needed to focus on organization. We identified what was important to get out, where things were located, and devised plans on making things easy to get at. We have a couple of fire-resistant boxes, and try to keep important daily use items in good condition and ready. It's not always possible to gather everything, so keep an eye on time and be prepared to simply abandon something that's not immediately ready to go.



    Anyway, we are working towards being ready. It's an ongoing process, and at first made us feel a bit paranoid. As you integrate things into your normal routine, though, that feeling goes away. Work you put in up front pays of mightily when the time comes.

    I'd like to hear what other people are doing, or any pointers on stuff we could be doing differently.

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    1 Most crucial things (water and lots of cash) go into small backpack in case we have to abandon the vehicle (accident / bridge out etc.)

    2. Do not be diverted from your objective. If Joe/Jane Shmoe is not prepared, don't be a hero, let their family serve as a lesson to others.

    3. My plans are simple...get the children and go. Mine are pre-teen and they are never more than 5 mins. from my office.

    4. Losing everything is just an opportunity to start fresh -- maybe a chance to take that "road less traveled". Mine is a philosophy that requires minimal planning and no practice.

  4. #4
    Yeah, I know a LOT! Vin DSL's Avatar
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    Interesting perspective...

    My community has come close to burning down every year, for the last 15 years. Ron even picked up on it last year. Personally, I've become oblivious to it. Still, you made valid points, I guess.

    When it comes right down to it, all you need is transportation to get you out of harms way. Having an escape route is the most important part, IMHO. Everything else is incidental...
    DISCLAIMER Any resemblance between the views expressed above and those of the owners and operators of this system is purely coincidental. Any resemblance between these views and my own are non-deterministic. The existence of Vin DSL is questionable. The existence of views in the absence of anyone to hold them is problematic. The existence of the reader is left as an exercise in the second-order coefficient.

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  5. #5
    the Windlord Gwaihir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lokki
    3) I am ordering removable firewire hard drives that will be setup as mirrors to my current system, as well as resurecting an old tower for 'remote' storage. The old system will have a wireless card and a LAN harness, placed at the opposite end of the house from the daily-use system. It will be a ghosted setup at first, though I am looking into better ways to do this. I'm also considering a laptop, and again will consider GMail for portable, critical information. If anyone has a secure online service or solution, please share the information!
    A good friend or family member.

    I have an extra hard drive in my PC that holds a back-up of all my dads stuff. He has an extra hard drive in his that hold a back-up of all my data. Each back-up is updated automatically twice a week over the internet using rsync over an ssh encrypted connection.

    He lives about 8 miles from me, which is enough for pretty much whatever natural or man made disaster we can expect in this area, but this solution works over any distance. Only when you get started or need a full recovery you might want to move both pcs physically side-by-side or it will take a LONG time and might run you over bandwith quota. (Don't know about US, but out here it is normal that a broadband connection is just x GB/month.)
    Regards,

    Wim Heemskerk
    ---
    Visit MeCCG.net - Cardgaming in J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth
    And Gwaihir.net - The Middle-earth CCG store

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    QA Manager JPC-Greg's Avatar
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    What about a spider like program to distribute in jag whereby everyone who subscribes contributes a part of their drive for someone elses offsite backup. That would be sort of a neat low cost backup solution. Basically store some data for your friends and they will store some for you.
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    I dunno, Greg... sounds like a good idea, but how to index all that? Sounds kinda Borg-esque to me

    I was actually thinking about something similar, though... what if JagPC were to partner with another data center FAR away, and distribute backups like that? Going a step further, what about setting up a plan where *we* as clients can pay a little extra to have backups stored somewhere else with some sort of DNS über-app that will change the server info if JagPC actually dives?

  8. #8
    the Windlord Gwaihir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jag
    What about a spider like program to ..
    That's not 'a little extra' but a big venture in itself. There might be a market for such a P2P backup system, but it will meet with a good number of handicaps:
    - reliability: as any one of the users might suddenly quit the program and reformat his drive, you'd need to keep multiple backups of all data
    - fair sharing / pricing plans: given that reliability aspect each person will probably need to donate about twice the storage capacity of what he wants to backup. People will likely find that to be "a lot" and cut back into that donated space whenever they feel like it, thus making the reliability part extra hard.
    - security: I wouldn't want others to have free access to my data
    - accountability: you could you allow others access either, as it would probably make those others accountable for that data on their harddrive too, with all the IP troubles involved (as you'd no doubt be sharing a lot of copyrighted materials then) or worse (would you want to have someone find kiddyporn on your harddrive)?
    - accessibility: few users will be on-line 24/7, yet the person relying on the back-up will want fast access to it when he needs it..
    - traceability: you'll have a lot of administrative chores on your hands to make sure each person maintains access to his own data without accidentally granting others access (a password on this own hard drive won't cut it once his house has burned down). On the other end of the spectrum you'll need to get old junk cleared out of the system.
    - etc.
    Regards,

    Wim Heemskerk
    ---
    Visit MeCCG.net - Cardgaming in J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth
    And Gwaihir.net - The Middle-earth CCG store

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