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You know you're prepared when ...

…you've identified and included irreplaceable items in your emergency plan.

Each year disasters happen right across Australia, affecting thousands of people. Lives are lost, people are injured and catastrophic damage is caused to homes and property. But there are simple steps people can take to ensure the safety of themselves, their loved ones and the things they hold dear.

Making a plan to protect what's important to you, including precious and irreplaceable items, is an integral part of being prepared.

Many people believe that they wouldn't be upset if they lost their precious possessions during a disaster, but people who have been through a disaster tell a different story.

Just ask Jocelyn Seaman, survivor of the October bushfires in New South Wales.

"Every day you think of the things you've lost. Some of them you just think, 'Oh, well', others bring you to tears. There are things you just can't replace," she says. Her father's war medals, an antique doll collection and three generations of family photos were lost in the fires.

Basic things such as identifying those items that are important, telling family members about them, and working out how you might protect them from different hazards can make all the difference.

Jocelyn Seaman lost precious belongings in the recent NSW bushfires.

Losing precious items may mean longer recovery after disaster

New research commissioned by Australian Red Cross found that only 14% of people thought they'd be very upset if they lost their precious items or keepsakes during a natural disaster.

But experts report that losing precious items and keepsakes causes people significant distress after a disaster. These are the items that make us who we are, and connect us to our past. When all is lost, or damaged, they help us reshape our identity.

From our experience, people who lose items precious to them can often take longer to recover from a disaster. The loss of these objects can be as traumatic as coping with the disaster.

There are four simple steps you can take to be prepared. Learn more »

The facts about losing precious items

In an independent survey that polled more than 1,000 people across Australia in August 2013, 44% of people surveyed said they have not identified or planned to protect precious items of personal value in the event of a natural disaster.

62% believe they would not be upset if they lost their precious or irreplaceable items.

The survey finds that people in regional areas are generally more inclined to include their precious and irreplaceable items in their emergency plan. 48% of regional respondents had included precious and irreplaceable items compared to 38% of metro respondents surveyed.

38% of 18-24 year olds compared to 55% of people over the age of 65 said they had planned to protect their precious and irreplaceable items.

However, 49% of people aged 65 or over said they would not be not at all upset if they lost their precious and irreplaceable items, compared to 20% of 18-24 year olds.

These findings are a timely reminder of how important it is to be prepared for an emergency or disaster and that it is crucial to include your precious and irreplaceable items. Download a REDiPlan to work through it with your family and loved ones.

Australian Red Cross thanks our partners First National Foundation and Medibank Private for supporting our work to help people prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters.

Photo: Dilini Perera/Australian Red Cross.

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