Taking time to plan our escape from fire, floods or tempest

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The news of those terrible floods down south made me shudder and give a quiet prayer of thanks that it wasn’t happening here.

It must have been a terrible experience for all involved and even if the rain has now stopped they face not weeks but months of clearing up.

Hard to imagine that rain could cause so much damage but given the scale of the downpours and suggestions of poor flood defences and river management, it certainly had an impact on those poor souls in the north of England.

When some friends popped in for a coffee we got talking about whether we’ve made any ‘disaster’ preparations if, heaven forbid, something like that were to happen closer to home.

Several of us, me included, had invested in a metal filing box to keep papers in. Difficult to claim on the house insurance if your paperwork is a soggy or burnt mess.

However, I’m not too sure how water-tight they are but at least it’s better than lying in a drawer.

One friend made us laugh as she said that her husband was in charge of all their finances and the paperwork.

“About every month or so he gets the box out and goes through it all, adding in any new papers that have arrived in the post,” she explained. “Then he carefully locks the box up, takes it upstairs, hides it at the back of the wardrobe ... then puts the key on top of the box.

“It’s just as well I’ve got my jewellery hidden in my knicker drawer!”

Some people were very organised and had a torch, candle and matches tucked away but easy to find in cupboards both upstairs and down.

Note to self: invest in a couple of torches at the weekend.

But then we really became serious and began to talk about what we would grab if we were told that we had 20 minutes to leave the house.

“Definitely the gin bottle,” said Linda in all seriousness. “I would certainly need that to calm my nerves – particularly if my hubby started going on about his garden being under water, which I just know he would.”

You can tell theirs is a long marriage!

“If my grandchildren weren’t staying because they would definitely be my first priority, then I would probably grab my metal filing box and a metal shortbread box full of old photographs,” I replied.

“They are irreplaceable and many of the people in them are long gone. Oh, and I’d grab the ring that my granny gave me for my 21st birthday.”

My friends commented how sentimental I was – and not very practical as I hadn’t mentioned taking my mobile phone or charger, but I did point out that if everything was under a foot of water then there would be nowhere to plug it in.

“I’m maybe sentimental but things like that are important to me. Clothes, phones, TVs and all the rest can be replaced but things like that are much more important.

“Everytime I look at that ring I remember spending time with my granny and I hope that one day Sophie will feel the sasme because I’ll be leaving her my ring.”

And on that cheery thought, we decided to forget the coffee and get out the prosecco to toast being warm and dry!