Living In A Cardboard House

Living In A Cardboard House | You'll find this and other quick and easy life hacks and organization hacks at

A Family Trying to Get On With  Life, In A Temporary Cardboard Home In A Fukushima Evacuation Center
At 9.0 the Fukushima Japan Earthquake was one of the fiercest, most destructive quakes of modern times.   As time goes on, the images and feelings about the quake will fade, but only for those who didn’t experience it.  For the people of Japan the reality of that destruction, that DISRUPTION of their lives, is not only crystal clear, it’s ongoing as those families who were hardest hit by the quake, struggle to get back to their daily lives.
Thousands of families are taking refuge in evacuation centers like this one — cardboard walls now cordon off their private living space.  The question is, do the people who have now been in this center for a month, have any way of returning to their normal lives?
Although some cities were devastated beyond recognition in the original quake, or multiple aftershocks, most were not.   Which means that the families now living within the cardboard walls could probably have gotten out of the city they’re currently in, and on to a different location, within that month.  They could have gone to stay with friends or relatives in other cities, where they could have been reunited with the vital documents and information they needed, so they could begin to get in touch with insurance professionals or put the kids in a new temporary school.  They could have located their online stash of family photos and keepsakes to make their temporary home, or new life a little more comfortable and cozy.
They could have done all of that if they had only had one thing.  A Get Back To Life Plan.
The day we realized how important that little plan was, was a day that began 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 ten minutes.”
If an airplane crash, Japan sized 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.
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 ten minutes to grab whatever I could, were some of the most stressful, most difficult I’ve ever experienced.
That’s why we made sure our newest book/program The Backup Plan 3.0 comes with a Get Back To Life Plan.  And if you don’t have the book yet, be sure to stop by the blog post we recently did on creating your own Get Back To Life Plan.
We’ve all seen images of Japan as her citizens struggle to get their lives back.   Let’s use those images to remind ourselves of one VERY important thing.  
People with a plan don’t usually have to live in a Cardboard House.
Have Fun Getting Your Stuff Together! We’ll talk later…


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The Book Inspired By The Blog. The Backup Plan 3.0

The Backup Plan 3.0 | Filled with Quick and easy steps you can take right now, to keep everything that’s important to you, safe, sound and accessible.

The Backup Plan 3.0, is filled with quick, easy, 5 minute steps you can take right now, to get everything that’s important to you organized, safe, sound and accessible.  Each section covers a different area, from backing up and fixing family photos, home movies and music, to vital documents, medical and financial information and even getting your digital life in order.  This special Bonus Edition includes 7 downloadable Bonus Books.  Paperback Edition $24.99   Buy now at  Downloadable PDF Edition $8.00  Buy Now       Read more about it

How To Back Up Your Photos, Videos and Music | Filled with Quick and easy steps you can take right now, to keep your photos, videos and music, safe, sound and accessible.

I don’t know about you, but the most important keepsakes in our house are our old family photos, followed closely by our home movies and music.  The problem is, grabbing piles of photo albums and all of the picture frames off the walls is hard to do if you have to get out of the house quickly. With How To Back Up Your Photos, Videos and Music, you’ll learn quick, easy steps to back up your print/digital photos, home movies, cassettes, vinyl albums and archive them in multiple, disaster proof locations.     $12.95   Buy now at    Read more about it

Raise Money & Save Lives!  Free Customized Editions of our books make a great fundraiser for your organization, companyor an extra stream of income for you.  

Your Business Continuity Plan May Be Missing Something…  Like your employees, for instance?  If your city is struck by a tornado, earthquake or other disaster, it isn’t just your company that will be affected – so will your employees.  That’s why you need to make sure they’re as prepared for an emergency as YOU are.  Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered.  Read More About It

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How to Get Ready For An #Earthquake – Part One

How To Get Ready For An Earthquake 


As longtime residents of Southern California, we know how difficult it can be to spend the days and weeks after a quake, living in earthquake mode.  The phenomenon isn’t really something you can explain to someone who hasn’t experience it personally.  New Californians are always asking how they’ll know if what they feel is a quake, or just an especially loud garbage truck. 

There’s only one answer to that question.  You’ll know! 

And sure enough when it happens, they’ll say, “you were absolutely right!”  An earthquake combines two things that most humans hate– the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises.  Feeling like the floor is going to crack open and swallow you, while listening to your house, cracking and groaning, while glass, bricks and your best china crashing to the ground around you, is a horrible sensation.

So what’s the best way to prepare for an earthquake?

Earthquakes are probably the most difficult type of disaster to prepare for, for two reasons.  First, there is absolutely no warning when one is going to strike.  Second, you never know how or where it’s going to strike.  Two earthquakes of the same magnitude aren’t necessarily going to have the same destructive capability. 

A shallow 5.0 quake, can potentially create more damages and injury than a 7.0 quake centered deep within the earth.  Shallow earthquakes mean more shaking and more cracks and fissures in the earth, which in turn damages more  buildings, streets and injures more people.  You also have to factor in how close the earthquake is to your home and where your home is located.  We once experienced a 1.5 quake that was centered very close to our home and knocked books off the shelves – while a 6.4 earthquake 30 or 40 miles away got us out of bed, but left our possessions exactly where the were the night before.

In earthquake country “location, location, location couldn’t be more true.  Remember the parable of the man who built his house on the sand versus the man who built his on the rock?  Those guys must have lived in earthquake country!  

It’s called liquefaction.  Especially in California, in areas where there are high concentrations of sand in the soil – aka high priced beach communities – the violent shaking of an earthquake causes water underground to rise up through the sandy soil, turning pseudo solid earth beneath homes to turn into liquid, swallowing anything above it – houses, stores, freeway on ramps.  Making sure that your home is build on rock solid ground is a great first step to long term earthquake safety.

The final reason that earthquakes are so hard to prepare for, is that they tend to happen very early in the morning.  Imagine being shaken out of a sound sleep, only to realize that your bed, your walls and your floor are all moving in opposite directions, while you try and remember the first item on your disaster checklist!  Not going to happen!

Here’s how YOU can prepare.

The first step?  Make sure that you have your earthquake survival gear and know how to secure your home and personal safety when an earthquake strikes.

The second, is to make sure that you’re able to grab everything you need – necessities, keepsakes, vital information – and leave for a safer location, in less than ten minutes.   Which is a lot easier than it sounds.

Continued in part two…

How To Get Ready For An Earthquake – Part Two

How To Get Ready For An Earthquake – Part Three

Have Fun Getting Your Stuff Together! We’ll talk later…

Keep The Stuff You Love Safe

How To Save Your Treasured Voice Mail Messages
How To Save Your Home Movies And Videos
How To Archive Your Digital Photos
How To Archive Your Print Photos
How To Make A Home Inventory
How To Get Your Financial Life In Order
How To Preserve Your Family History
How To Back Up Your Facebook Friends List
Turn Your Smartphone Into A Mobile Command Center
How To Backup Your Music, MP3s And Vinyl Albums
How To Access Your Money No Matter Where You Are

Keep The People You Love Safe

How To Keep Your Medical History At Your Fingertips
How To Create A Family Evacuation Plan
How To Fill Out Your Child’s Emergency Contact Card

How To Set Up Your ICE Contacts

How To Set Up Your ICE Contacts

How To Set Up An ICE Contact On Your iPhone
How To Set Up An ICE Contact On Your Samsung Galaxy Phone
How To Set Up An ICE Contact On Your Android Smartphone
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How To Set Up Your Medical ID & ICE Contact On The iPhone
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How To Earthquake Proof Your Bedroom
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The Best Apps For Tornado Season
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How To Get Ready For A Wildfire
How to Get Ready For A Flood
How To Get Ready For An Earthquake