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Are You Ready For An Emergency?

Burlingame resident Margaret Lukens helps others prepare for crises.

What would you do in an emergency? In the event of a fire or earthquake, would you be prepared?

Burlingame’s Margaret Lukens wanted more people to feel comfortable answering ‘yes’ to this question, so she took her business as a professional organizer and created an offshoot, Preparation Nation, aimed at preparing people for the worst.

In 2003, Lukens began New Leaf and Company, her professional organizing business, which focuses on organization coaching and time management training.

“I began to see a lot of people who had a lot of regret after a loss,” Lukens said. “I thought I would really like to learn a lot more about emergency preparation to help my clients.”

She started blogging on the topic and soon found her focus for Preparation Nation on helping people get their paper work in order. She said that while there are plenty of resources instructing what supplies one should have in case of emergency, few resources explain what documents one needs to file an insurance claim in event of a fire or theft.

“People tend to have a couple of different problems: they don’t know what they need to keep, and they don’t know what they need an original of…and how to connect digital and electronic storage with physical storage,” Lukens said. She suggests using a Vital Records PortaVault, a device that allows for easy organization of documents such as birth certificates, financial records and insurance policies.

She said she spoke with a San Bruno resident who, in the wake of the September pipeline explosion, was told she may need to evacuate. She told Lukens she packed a suitcase, gathered spare medication, her camera and her PortaVault. With those four things, she was ready to go.

Lukens teaches two-and-a-half hour teleclasses on the PortaVault. She also works emergency preparation into the work she already does with her organization clients.

“I’m more inclined to—just as we’re going through the organization process—look for ways we can improve their emergency preparedness at the same time,” she said.

Lukens first realized she could help others with emergency readiness by first helping herself. She decided she could share her techniques with others and help them minimize loss.

“I find that it’s a human tendency to, when we’re frightened or confused, we tend to turn away,” Lukens said. “I went through my own challenges with getting organized for emergencies because I found the resources that were available either frightening or confusing.”

Lukens splits her time running her organization business, Preparation Nation and speaking to groups of professional organizers about adding emergency preparation to their services, as well as mothers’ clubs and other local groups.

“I think we all feel like we have more stuff coming at us than we can comfortably handle and so I really like to urge people tot take just one small step,” Lukens said. “I’m always looking for more small steps to help people going from feeling overwhelmed to feeling prepared, because preparation feels great.”

For more information on emergency preparedness, visit Lukens’ website.

Anjessello April 27, 2011 at 12:42 AM
That' very inspiring to start emergency prepairness. No I am not prepaired at all, all I know is run out to the street if an earthquake happens.
Anjessello April 27, 2011 at 12:42 AM
That' very inspiring to start emergency prepairness. No I am not prepaired at all, all I know is run out to the street if an earthquake happens.
Anjessello April 27, 2011 at 12:42 AM
That' very inspiring to start emergency prepairness. No I am not prepaired at all, all I know is run out to the street if an earthquake happens.
Anjessello April 27, 2011 at 12:42 AM
That' very inspiring to start emergency prepairness. No I am not prepaired at all, all I know is run out to the street if an earthquake happens.
Anjessello April 27, 2011 at 12:56 AM
Hey, I didn't do that 4 times, I don't know why this thing is messing up, that's the site not me!
Margaret Lukens May 11, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Anjessello, one small step we can all take is to review the San Francisco Quake Quiz at http://quakequizsf.org/ It's a fun online game that also shows what to do and what NOT to do during an earthquake. One thing to remember: when the shaking begins, "drop, cover, and hold on." Don't try to go anywhere while the shaking is happening - you could be injured. Stay where you are and cover your head by getting under a table, for example, or if you''re in bed, put your pillow over your head. A second small step is to store several gallons of water so you'll have some in case service is interrupted. Those two steps are a great beginning!

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