Know More: preparing for an emergency evacuation

By: Taylor Temby Email
By: Taylor Temby Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- Tuesday’s disaster proved you never know when you'll be faced with an emergency, and now some Grand Junction residents are without a home for a second night.

Residents on 7th Street were given just minutes to grab their stuff and leave, but in that short amount of time, some forgot crucial items like medication. That’s why authorities say preparing now could potentially save your life when disaster strikes.

What would you grab if you had just five minutes to leave your house?

"You know, what is really important?" mother Jackie Rodriguez asked. "We never really thought about [that] until that explosion happened."

Rodriguez and her family have always had a plan for leaving the house in case of emergency, but never for what to do next. After Tuesday’s explosion and fires, she says her family will be taking the necessary steps to prep their home for an emergency evacuation.

The Rodriguez family is now looking to build an evacuation kit through Harvest Reserve.

"They offer classes and things to let you know exactly what you need to have packed for that 72 hour bag," Rodriguez said.

Harvest Reserve works to educate and supply people with basic needs in the event of a natural disaster.

"Home is where you feel safest," Harvest Reserve Foods owner DJ LeBaron said. "If you have to leave your home, you can take that bag and you'll have everything to take care of you for at least three days."

Whether it's food, water, flashlights or medicine, these bags are designed to hold a family's most necessary items should they have just five minutes to leave their homes.

"You’re not running through wondering, ‘What do I take? What do I need?’" LeBaron said.

The Red Cross says it's hard to think through the 'what if's' when you're under stress and it's easy to miss important items if you're even given a chance to grab what you need.

"Building a disaster and evacuation kit prior to a disaster saves a lot of time," Western Colorado Red Cross executive director Eric Myers said. He also says a kit will allow emergency personnel to focus on their jobs, rather than having to take the extra time to go back into homes with residents who forget items.

Experts also say families should be on the same page just in case something like Tuesday’s disaster ever happens in their neighborhood.

“Talk to kids about what to do if you've been evacuated from your house. It's like doing a fire drill like they do at school, but do at home and do it frequently," Myers said.

For many, it can be difficult to accept the fact a disaster is possible and can strike at any time without warning, but that's exactly why some choose to prepare now.

"None of those people that were evacuated from their homes knew what was coming," LeBaron said.

“You need to get ready because we just don't know when it'll hit us," Grand Junction resident Judy Hackney said. Hackney and her family have been building their evacuation pack for the past few months.

Authorities say it’s difficult for many to forget last year's wildfire season. Many in the De Beque area were evacuated with little notice, so experts say it’s just another reminder how crucial it is for people to prepare their homes now.

Red Cross officials also recommend residents go to the city's web page and sign up to receive emergency notifications on all of their family cell phones.


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