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Nobody wants to evacuate their home, but emergencies often require it; staying put could endanger your life. If you’ve ever had to evacuate, you know that it can be extremely stressful. You will only be able to take a small portion of your possessions. Deciding which of these belongings to take and which to leave behind can be anguishing for some people.

Although no one can tell you exactly what to take, there are some key items that everyone should include in their evacuation pack. These include emergency supplies, medications, irreplaceable documents, and family valuables. It is important that you prepare ahead of the evacuation so that you can find all of these items and don’t get so frenzied that you accidentally leave things behind.

In addition to possessions, you’ll also need some critical information—such as phone numbers. If you can write these items down or plug them into your cell phone now, they’ll be easy to access in times of emergency. Here are a few numbers you should be able to retrieve easily:

  • Insurance companies – Know the phone number of your health insurance company in case you need medical attention during the evacuation. You will also need the phone number and account number for your home insurance company in the event that your house sustains damage from the disaster. As you evacuate, take vital insurance papers to serve as the basis for your claims.
  • Hospital – Hopefully no one will get hurt, but if you do need to go to the emergency room, it’s important to know how to reach them.
  • Neighbors – Are all of your neighbors leaving, too? Is anyone staying behind? Have they heard any new details about emergency updates or evacuation routes? Neighbors can be a great source of information and support. Know how to get in touch with them quickly.
  • Work contacts – If you are expected at work, call in to inform your boss and co-workers about your situation. They can provide a support network for you as long as they know about your situation.
  • School contacts – If you have kids in school, you can call in to find out if their school is closing down for the day. In the event of a tornado, for example, officials may allow parents to pick children up in advance of the storm. Know how to reach the school so that you are privy to important updates.
  • Disaster restoration company – You need to pick up the pieces after a major disaster. If the calamity caused damages to your house, you might need the services of a disaster restoration company that is highly skilled in safe, quick and efficient clean-up and damage control.

The moment that you are evacuating your home is not the time to be rummaging around for important phone numbers. Make sure to record them and plug them into your smart phone today. Wise preparation today can eliminate problems tomorrow.