You Have Five Minutes To Evacuate!  Surviving The Unexpected         By Laura & Janet Greenwald


The day started like any other.

I was a stay at home mom, and had just finished a load of laundry, before getting ready to start dinner.  As I opened the cabinet to reach for a dish, the house shuttered.  It felt like something had hit the roof -- hard.  A moment later there was an enormous roar, followed by a shock wave.  The kitchen chairs flew across the room and everything was cascading off the countertop .  I ran to the living room window and pulled back the curtains.  All I could see was orange – everything was orange.  I closed the curtains and opened them again thinking I had to be imagining this.  But I wasn’t. 

As I stared out the window I realized that the orange was actually a ball of fire surrounding what remained of a 737, lying broken, smoke billowing, just across the street and two houses away from where I stood.  The houses under the airplane were nothing more than rubble.  I immediately searched the distance for my daughter Laura’s school just two blocks away.  From what I could see beyond the smoke, it looked okay.  Adrenaline took over.  We’d need clothes – at least one night and one day’s worth for Laura, my husband and my mother who lived with us.  We’d need cash – whatever we had in the house, ID, pictures -- at least a few, credit card…  By this time I was running from room to room dumping everything I needed on the couch.  There was a knock at the door.  “We’re evacuating the neighborhood”, said a fireman in full gear.  “Take everything you need for the next two or three days.”  

“You have five minutes.”

If an airplane crash, hurricane, earthquake, terrorist attack or medical emergency struck right now, would you be ready? 

Where is your spouse, your children, the other people you love?  What if they were injured?  Would a doctor know what to do to save their lives, with their specific healthcare needs in mind?  Would the hospital know to call you?  

What about your vital documents?  Could you find your bank account number, your homeowner’s policy and your birth certificate, if you suddenly had five minutes to evacuate? 

Most people can’t.  As human beings as much as we realize should be prepared, we’re just not hard-wired to be disaster-oriented.  If that’s all we thought about, we’d never make it through the day – at least not without living under the bed.   The good news is, being prepared doesn’t mean we have to be disaster- oriented.  Just the opposite!  It means that by taking an hour or two to prepare now, we can relax knowing that if a disaster or medical emergency ever strikes, we’ll:  

Know what to do

Know what to take

Know where everything is

Know that we’ve done everything possible not just to survive, but to thrive 

And isn’t that the point?  Having lived through a neighborhood plane crash, a tornado and a few medical emergencies, we can definitely tell you, that it is! The last few years, more than any other, our nation and our world have faced more than its share of natural and man-made disasters.  The only good thing about that is, we can use the lessons learned during Hurricane Katrina or floods, tornadoes, the Tsunami or even the London Bombings, to make sure our own families are prepared.   

We’re not only talking about disasters.  Think about it for a moment.  If someone is in a car accident on the way home from work, and is brought into the emergency room unconscious, the doctors caring for him are looking at a blank slate.  They have no information about their patient, besides obvious injuries.  They have no idea what he might be allergic to, what medications he’s taking or the fact that he had surgery the month before.  

Doctors can put together about 75% of a patient’s background by examining him.  But what about that other 25%?  What if that 25% is the difference between life and death?  When it comes to you and your family, it’s up to you to fill in that missing piece BEFORE an emergency strikes.  You need to: 

  • Figure out what you need

  • Find all of that information or those documents

  • Fill in or create emergency contact forms

  • Format and secure your vital documents

  • Formulate your family’s emergency plan

  • Fast track your family’s emergency treatment 

And make sure that if you ever have only five minutes, you can grab what you need and go. 

Our family survived the plane crash that day.  Those across the street, did not.  We were and continue to be very blessed.  But those five minutes to grab whatever I could, were some of the most stressful, most difficult I’ve ever experienced.   

We’re here to tell you, that it doesn’t have to be that way! 

Creating an evacuation plan is just ONE way to keep you and your family safe.  We have many more...

How about Grab it and Go Forms to capture medical history, insurance, financial and vital documents for every member of the family, that can be filled out by hand, or by computer, secured and ready whenever you need them?  Or customizable emergency action plans, home inventory, tips, checklists and  printable wallet cards.   Check out Ready In 10 Today!




Laura and Janet Greenwald, are the founders of The Next of Kin Education Project and Stuf Productions.  The mother & daughter team were not only instrumental in enacting three Next of Kin Laws in California and Illinois, but created the Seven Steps to Successful Notification System, which teaches quick, easy, next of kin notification skills for trauma patients to hospitals like Dallas’ Methodist Medical Center. 

Share |














Click Here to view all of our Current Articles

Click Below to Subscribe to our Current Articles

 AddThis Feed Button