Please stop

Here’s how to stop the endless loop of sadness playing over and over again in your head. Sadness you’re feeling for the almost 40,000 people evacuated from their homes due to wildfires in our province over the last two weeks.

Not knowing if they would ever see their homes again was gut wrenching for them. And some even had to do the unthinkable and leave behind barn cats they couldn’t find, horses they couldn’t get loaded on a trailer, dogs running off in fear…

It was beyond frightening and downright terrifying for people to leave the place they felt the most safe, to drive through burning forests and end up in strange towns, registering at Emergency Social Service centers.

And the media made darn certain the rest of us saw how devastating this was to everyone. Which was good, because those of us not affected, needed to know what was going on, so we could get busy and help in any way possible.

Unfortunately, the residual effect, was sadness. People flooded social media with sad face emojis as though to say, “Oh man, I feel so bad for what you’re going through.”

Yep. All good.

But it’s time to stop.

It’s time to stop focusing on the negative–which has absolutely no benefits.

It is time to be grateful instead.

Grateful for the thousands of everyday people helping out in a gazillion ways, big and small.

Grateful for the Canadian Red Cross volunteers helping to register evacuees.

Grateful for the Animal Care volunteers taking in dogs, cats, rabbits, pigs, horses, goats, llamas, alpacas, chickens, and cattle…  making sure they were well cared for, so their owners could concentrate on themselves, and the rest of their family.

Grateful for the little girls holding lemonade sales to gather money for the “kids who had to run away from the fire.”

Grateful for meals and entertainment being provided to evacuees and volunteers by numerous groups, clubs, and generous individuals.

Grateful for the town of Fort MacMurray coming together and sending semi-trucks filled with donations from the residents to help out their fellow Canadians.—YES! This is the town wiped out by wildfires just last year.

Grateful for the firefighters and pilots risking their own lives, doing everything in their power to save every square foot of property they possibly could. Firefighters working endlessly, and then sleeping on the ground when they couldn’t go another step.

Grateful for police who came in from their nice safe towns outside the fire zone to protect the homes of those who had to evacuate, to help guide people to safety, and who tasked themselves with feeding and watering animals left behind.

Grateful for people who stayed behind to make sure the firefighters and police were fed.

Grateful for private citizens setting up on the side of the road with fuel tanks in the back of a pick up, and a couple flats of water bottles, and bags of snacks. They held up hand-printed signs reading, FREE gas, diesel, water and food.

Grateful for haulers who took it upon themselves to drive from place to place, INSIDE the dangerous zones, evacuating animals for total strangers—like the one who days later was asking if anyone knew the two ladies who simply showed up and got her alpacas to safety…because she wanted to thank them properly.

Grateful for citizens who wandered among the evacuation centers, asking if anyone needed a hand, and drove a couple of people to a pharmacy to get a prescription filled.

Grateful for veterinarians who made themselves available for sick or injured animals.

Grateful for people sending trucks filled with hay for horses now living in pens on various fairgrounds, and dozens of other places.

Grateful for volunteers walking dogs, and horses, and changing litter boxes.

Really, I could go on and on and on, because there were thousands of people, stepping up in whatever way they were able, just to help a little bit. Because they wanted to ease the suffering for someone having a really, really, really, bad day… or two… or ten.

The message I’m trying to get across is this.

Please, STOP being sad for everyone, because sadness, is negative and really hard on you, and everyone around you. I realize it’s hard to shake, but try, by not focussing on the negatives.

Gratitude is a positive, and creates a healing environment.

Be GRATEFUL for this country we live in, for the wonderful people we call our brothers and sisters, and for being able to help.

I’m not saying you can’t grieve. Grieving is natural and necessary, especially for those who have been through the hell of losing their home or a pet.

But for those not grieving, we NEED to stop thinking of this huge event as a sadness, and start thinking of how wonderful it is that everyone could pull together, take strangers into their home, offer a meal, or a blanket, or a maybe just a spare loonie (for my American friends, that’s a dollar 🙂 ).

We need to be humbled by the outpouring of love and supplies from Fort MacMurray residents who themselves lost everything. For the dozens of hand written messages they sent to the people chased out of their homes by these wildfires.

We need to be grateful, and strong, for those who have lost so much.

So PLEASE try. You, and everyone else will feel better for your effort.

And continue to help out in any little way you can, because I know, those on the receiving end?  Oh boy, are they ever grateful.


 


     

EVACUATION – THE FASTEST EXIT OF YOUR LIFE

Forest fires are threatening a big chunk of our province, and evacuation orders are real.

I’m sharing some of my Emergency Preparedness training with you, in hopes of making things just a bit easier if you’re faced with an evacuation warning–and please feel free to share with others.

 

TEN BASIC RULES for WHEN YOU RECEIVE AN EVACUATION ORDER

  1. If you’re given instructions, follow them.
  2. If ordered to do so, turn off water, gas, and electricity.
  3. Leave immediately, taking all the other residents, including pets, with you, along with your grab-and-go-bag (and your emergency survival kit if possible).
  4. If there is time, leave a note telling others when you left and where you went…. The mailbox is a great place to leave it, or in the fridge. Yes, IN the fridge as it will be relatively safe from floodwater, some fires and some hazardous chemical spills, etc.
  5. Wear clothing and shoes appropriate for the weather conditions.
  6. Lock the house.
  7. Listen to the radio and follow instructions from the local emergency officials.
  8. Do your best to follow the routes specified by the officials. Know that if you deviate, you could end up on a road that is blocked, or in a dangerous area (not one where they’ll think to look for you later).
  9. Call your out of town contact asap to inform them of the situation and where you are going.
  10. Sign up with the emergency registration centre as soon as possible because that will be how some family members and those worried will locate you (if you don’t have an out of town contact) and how you will be accounted for so no search is necessary.

3 WAYS YOU CAN BE READY FOR ANYTHING

1. GRAB AND GO BAG

Keep it packed and ready at all times so you’re not running from room to room gathering what you might need.

Critical, must have items for everyone’s Go Bag

  • Water. As many bottles of water as you can carry
  • Water purification tablets
  • Medication. Whatever you and your family must have or might need to survive
  • A copy of any prescriptions you may need to fill if away from home more than a few days
  • Basic pain killers such as Tylenol, Advil, Aspirin etc.
  • EpiPen (if someone in your household suffers from life-threatening allergies)
  • Glasses, and or contact case and solution
  • Spare Keys (house and car)
  • Dental floss (doubles as string and very useful)
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste. Brushing one’s teeth has been found to be number one on the list of little things you can do to feel better or refreshed.
  • Hand sanitizer, again, it will make you feel better
  • A lighter, because fire is the ultimate tool, and even waterproof matches are often unreliable
  • Flashlight, batteries, and light sticks
  • Portable radio and batteries
  • Photos of family members and pets
  • Out-of-area contact numbers
  • Emergency phone list
  • List of people to notify if you are injured

Papers

  • Description of pertinent medical history/conditions.
  • Copies of important documents
    • Social security, Driver’s License, CareCard
    • Birth certificate., Adoption papers
    • Marriage certificate/Divorce decree
    • Bank information to access accounts manually.
    • Credit card information
    • Insurance
    • Pet vaccination records
  • Cash (coins and small bills) – Assume ATM’s will not be working.
  • Whistle (to call for help if trapped)
  • Pocket knife, scissors, or box cutter
  • Small first aid kit
  • Several pairs of latex gloves
  • Dust mask
  • Toilet paper
  • Pet food to last 3 days

***Packing items inside Ziploc bags not only keeps them clean and dry, but ensures you have some handy re-sealable, waterproof bags in your GB.

Optional but necessary

  • Comfortable shoes/boots
  • Two pairs of socks (more if you have room)
  • Comfortable clothing (sweats, extra underwear)
  • Jacket or sweatshirt (depends on your climate)
  • Comb/brush
  • Lip balm, lotion
  • Soap, washcloth, face towel, shampoo
  • Razor, emery board, nail clippers
  • Sanitary products, tissue,
  • Sunscreen, plastic grocery bags Good book, playing cards, crossword puzzles
  • Work gloves
  • Gloves/mitts and instant hand warmers if cold temps are an issue in your area
  • Blanket
  • Plastic ground sheet
  • Food Snacks – preferably high protein (canned nuts have good storage life, but be aware of allergies)

2. PET PREPARATION

Be Ready! Have your crates where they can quickly be accessed, have leashes and harnesses etc by the door.

Have an ID tag, complete with pet photo and your contact information clipped to the travel crate. If you have more than one pet, clip them all to one crate and you can sort out who’s in which one later.

Have a Pet Emergency Kit ready to grab and go. It should contain:

  1. Water and a water bowl
  2. Food for a week, and a food dish
  3. A blanket (something that smells like home will help them settle)
  4. A pair of old socks for each crate (they carry their human’s scent and that of their house)
  5. Toys (your pet will need exercise and entertainment)
  6. Leashes (if you have an extra, pack it, someone else may need one)
  7. An extra collar or harness (just in case you come across a lost or stray pet)
  8. Special equipment, provisions or medications
  9. A photo copy of vaccination records
  10. Contact information for the Vet office we use

3. OUT OF TOWN CONTACTS

…are like a secret stash of gold in your emergency kit.

Scenario:   An earthquake hits, the power goes out, some buildings have fallen, there is widespread damage.  You’re at work, your husband is at work, your daughter is at the local university, and your son is at high school.

Will both you and your husband be trying to reach the kids? Will he be phoning you while your daughter is also trying to reach you? Will all of you be waiting for the other to call first? You’re panicking and now you dial 911, but you get a busy signal, or a dial tone. What if the lines are down, the cell tower is out, or the circuits are overloaded? Who you gonna call? NO, NOT the ghost guys!

Instead of jammed circuits and dead cell batteries, you each make one call outside of your area, to Aunt Mary. You tell her where you are, what shelter you’re going to, etc. And Aunt Mary tells each of you where the others are when you check in.

This contact is also incredibly helpful for extended family and friends, because they want to know if you’re okay as well.

Once shelters are set up and the Red Cross is at work, they will do a fabulous job of keeping everyone informed of the status of their kin….but until then, Aunt Mary keeps you all in the loop.

So PLEASE, pick yourself a contact or two or three. Explain their role and provide your contact information.

If you’ve chosen more than one contact, make sure they have each other’s contact information so there are no breakdowns in communication.

 

Apologies for the rough way this blog is put together, but I felt it more important to get the information out there quickly, and forfeit the pretty formatting.

I sincerely hope none of you has to evacuate, but if you do, I hope I’ve helped you be ready to get out quickly and safely.