Be Prepared

I wrote this original article back in 2009 as the Red River Valley was recovering from a record flood.  In the last few weeks, the news has been warning us of another major flood.  Many of us in the midwest have had more than our fair share of snow this year.  While we may be powerless against mother nature and what she has in store for us, we do have power over how prepared we are.  I am not a sky is falling type of person and worried about the flood.  But I am the type of person who likes to be ready in the face of disaster.  So take the time now, to get ready.   I am reminded not only of being prepared for floods but also of the tornados that ripped through Wadena, Minnesota this summer.  If no natural disaster happens, all the better, but if disaster strikes you know that what you treasure most will be kept safe. 

  • Take the time to go through your possessions now.  Do you need to keep everything?  This process will take some time, invest in the time now!  Go through one area of your home at a time, this takes time and can not be done in an afternoon.  Enlist the help of friends, family or a professional to help you decide on what to keep and what to purge.
  • Do you need to buy flood insurance?  Most polices need to be in place 30 days before any flooding in order to be in effect.  Even renewals need to be in place 30 days before the expiration date.
  • Take a picture or video of your house and all of its contents, put it in a safe place such as a water proof safe.  You may need this for insurance purposes later on.  It is much easier proving the contents of your home with documentation in place now, then sitting down after the fact and trying to remember what were in the contents of every drawer.  Another tip is to give this video to a friend of family member who lives in another town.
  • Grab a friend and do both of your organizing projects together.  It is always best to get a fresh set of eyes, and especially when those eyes do not see the sentimental attachment to what is being sorted.
  • Donate what you think other people would find useful.  Don’t just donate items to get it out of your house.  Donate with purpose.  Maybe you have an extra coffee pot that a family who have been displaced would appreciate.
  • Place your items in plastic bins and totes.  If you ever had to carry wet boxes you suddenly realize how heavy water can be.  A favorite to use is Space Bags.  These cool organizing products take large items like clothing, blankets and stuffed animals and literally sucks the air right out of them and compresses them to 1/10 of the size in a water proof container.  Be warned that they sometimes will leak, so do not use these as your only means of water protection.
  • Look at your items and really decide if you use it or if you are just holding on to it for sentimental reasons.  A good rule of thumb, if you haven’t looked at it or used it in 6 months, it is time to get rid of the item as you are only holding on to it for sentimental reasons.  If it truely means something to you, you should have it in a place of honor in your home, not packed away in a box.
  • Place all of the items you can’t live without in an easy to grab location, so if you do have to evacuate, you or your family know exactly where the items are and can grab them in an emergency.  Some things to think about are medications and cell phone chargers.  Maybe get some back up ones in place.  For me it is my photos.  What I did during the flood of 2009 is placed all of my photos, negatives and scrap books in an extra vehicle we had and drove the extra vehicle to a friends house in another town that was safe from flooding.
  • Have a family emergency plan.  Does your family know where to meet if the roads to your house are not accessible?  Do you have a friend’s or families house where you can stay at?
  • Photos need some special attention.  Scan those priceless one of a kind photos into your computer and save them on an outside server such as Snapfish, so that they can be accessible from wherever, whenever.  A teenager in your household can easily take on this project.
  • Many of us are now lost without our computers.  Make sure that you have a plan for your computer.  If you have a large, cumbersome desktop computer, invest in an external hard drive.  Save all important documents on a regular basis so that if you need to leave your home quickly, you can grab that external hard drive as you leave the house without the fear of losing any important information.
  • Two years ago my advice was to label all of your drain plugs.  Are your drain plugs all ready to go? So if the mayor ever tells you to plug your drains, you can simply grab the bag of drain plugs and quickly get the job done.
  • Pets are like members of our families.  Do you have a plan for you pets in case of an emergency.  We all remember the stories after hurricane Katrina that shelters can not take pets and people just had to leave them behind.  Have friends or family that you know would be willing to help you and your furry loved one out if need be.  Ask now as you don’t want to show up at their door for help only to find out that they have severe allergies.

Plan now and be prepared for the worst case scenario but hope that you never will come upon that.  Remember to really work on what is important to you and your family and you will soon realize that it is not your possessions, but it is your loved ones and as long as they are safe, you have everything you need in life.

 To Joyful, Simplified Living,

 MS. Simplicity

MS. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger  operates her business as I Did it with MS. Simplicity.  She is a Professional Organizer based out of Fargo, ND and her website can be found here.  Need to contact MS. Simplicity privately, you can email her at