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Smile! You're on Survival Camera!

When that disaster strikes, where are you going to be? Where is your spouse going to be? How about your children? Unless you are somewhat narrow-minded and believe it will only occur as you predict and when everybody is together, your planning needs to incorporate for the very real probability any crisis may not happen as you planned. It may come when the spouse is shopping, at the doctor's office with the children, visiting a family member or friend or hundreds of other possibilities. If you both work (Do not most two-adult families work today?) you will likely be separated by the crisis. If you are separated or can not get home and get through the initial disaster, what next?

The next is something very terrifying to contemplate, but you really need to consider and plan for; that is being separated from family, friends and even pets immediately after a disaster and then trying to find each other. If your child was in school but the school was damaged and the kids taken to different shelters, where are they? If your spouse was shopping and you could not join together before having to seek shelter, where are they and how are you going to find them? If you are like me, my family and best friend is a dog: where would I find her and how?

"Necessary items to include in a disaster kit" lists depicts the need to have a list of emergency contacts to call. IF you and all the other family and friends have access to a telephone after a disaster such a list would be greatly appreciated to inform each other of the condition and whereabouts of the others. But what if you can not call someone due to phone service being interrupted?

Are you going to walk around and ask people "have you seen my boy? His name is ___ and he's __ years old. He's about this big (holding that outstretched hand) and has brown hair"? That may work well in small towns or rural areas, but how about in large urban areas millions of Americans live in? What about my dog? How difficult would it be for me to describe my dog to another person? "She's a mixed breed, looks white mostly but has a few dark spots, about this high (hands stretched apart)". The people you are talking with, individuals or officials may sympathize with you and really want to help, but the visualization of who you are trying to describe and their perceived mental picture maybe totally different, totally confusing and totally meaningless.

A simple solution would be able to show a photo of the loved one, friend or pet. People can "see and understand" from a photo, not from your verbal description. "A picture is worth a thousand words" is never more aptly stated than after a disaster strikes when you are trying to re-connect with family, friends, and for people like me, finding Fido.

Whoa, am I suggesting carrying around a photo album in the bug-out-bag? Nope, I'm sure not. (A group photo with both spouses and children is a suggested item for the bag though). What I do suggest is to use your (or friends) digital camera and taking some photographs of everyone; family, friends, Fido and storing the media on the tiny memory chips. The chips are so small and have no appreciable weight so you will not even know they are there until if and when needed. If you don't own a digital camera and can't find someone to take a few photos, take what photographs you do have to Wally-World or wherever and have them digitalized for you. Toss the chips into a plastic film container (throw away 35 mm) or other container where they are waterproof and safe.

While taking the family and friend's portraits, how about taking a few shots of those valuable items in the house? Those chips are small, so use some of the memory to record the things which later you are going to have to fight the insurance companies over. "See, here is a photo of my living room with my big-screen TV sitting there". Sure beats "I'm telling you I had a big-screen TV".

After a disaster, barring water and perhaps food, everyone works to get electricity going. The power company may need some time, but generators are going to crank-up everywhere. Is there many a home or offices or government agencies without a PC and printer today? I imagine I will need many copies of Fido's photos so I can spread them around to all the local animal shelters, veterinarian hospitals and to carry with me while searching for her.

Get the drift of my suggestion? Have (&/or have the ability to later produce) photo(s) of the loved ones to assist you finding each other in the crazy aftermath of any disaster causes.

-Jerry B Blaine

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