What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about fleeing a natural disaster? The answer should be, panic. Just imagine you turn on the news to see a wildfire barrelling down on your locale. It could be a tornado, floods, hordes of the undead. Even if it is a slow moving hurricane that you have been tracking for a week, would you be able to pack up and go quickly? No one wants to think of leaving their home to the whims or fate of nature’s wrath. Certain things can be replaced easily, appliances, furniture, vehicles. It’s the irreplaceable things that need to be considered. Family photo’s, paperwork, family heirlooms, all of these will be the things your cry over if Mother Nature asserts herself.
Step 1 – Insurance
First, do you have insurance for your household? Not the structure, although that would be important too, but your personal belongings. Most insurance policies have a limit set on your stuff inside the dwelling. Talk to your provider. What is covered and what is not. Things that are typically not covered, unless you have a rider, is jewelry, cash, guns, antiques sometimes. Find out! Next step is to make sure you have proof of your ownership of your stuff. Nothing beats pictures or videos. Lay that stuff out and click away or record.
Also Read: Are You Prepared To Help Your Neighbors?
Receipts are handy too. Download those pics/videos to a secure site, put them on your computer, make copies to have at a family members house far from your area. It does you no good if they live next door and their house gets erased too. Flash drives are cheap and hold lots of info. Send a copy to your insurance company. Redundancies. Second, the stuff that can’t be replaced. Photo’s, that baby book, grandma’s wedding ring that you hope to pass on to your grand child, etc. If you have inventoried your possessions and have the evidence secured, you are ready to write down a plan.
Step 2 – Bug Out Plan
I have broken mine down into time frames (< 5 Minutes, < 1 Hour, > 1 Hour). When you decide to bale out to save your skin, reason goes out the door, you run around freaking out wondering what to do. Don’t think you can be calm, it isn’t worth the risk. When the time comes, a list, posted where you can’t miss it, will be your lifeboat.
Here are some examples:
Less than 5 minutes (< 5 minutes) – Load kids, dogs, family photo’s, valuables, cash, gold, Bug Out Bag, laptop, mobile phone, guns & ammo
Less than 1 hour (< 1 hour) – (Include the above list), food storage, clothes, camping gear, spare gas, extra ammo
1 hour or more (> 1 hour) – Pack extra clothing, Hook up camper or trailer, grab empty bins and empty the gear closet, Load up camper, Load bikes, motorcycles, ( Insert any important things here ), Turn off gas feed to the house, Post contact info on door for emergency responders, Grab external hard drive, etc, etc.
You can see where this is going. Everyone’s list will be different, the best part of this is that you can adjust it at a later time if your priorities change or you remember to add items. My list is one page long and has been written in a fashion so that only my family can understand it. We have this posted on the back of the front door, so you don’t want to have a list of where you have stashed your gold and ammo for all to see. Think OPSEC, but you don’t want to have to break out the Enigma Machine to decipher it. I have included important contact numbers on it also, this list will go in my pocket when I leave, actually as I am loading. Don’t put it down because you will forget where you put it and waste valuable time trying to find it. Meeting places should be included too. If you are heading North or South to flee the fire, where will you meet friends and family?
Step 3 – Communication
If fleeing a natural disaster chances are that your house may survive and/or be visited by first responders. I have created a post for them that lets them know that we have left with or without or pets, contact info and misc info. If your pets have fled and you have to leave, include a description and their names. Most family pets will return home and if a stranger knows their name, they will be more inclined to accept help from them. I included a message that says, “Please help yourself to the food & beer in the fridge.” They are risking their lives to save your dwelling, so a kind message will be appreciated and they may stage at your house giving you a better chance of returning to an intact dwelling. 🙂
Also Read: How to Bug Out From Mother Nature
My info sheet to them also includes instruction on my back-up generator, which may be left running to feed my roof mounted sprinklers. Now this next suggestion is a tough one for most people, leave your doors unlocked. It makes egress for firefighters easier. We have all read stories of people coming into disaster areas to pillage empty homes. If thieves know you are gone they will break a window to get in anyway, so pick your poison. This is where having some stuff stored in the open, chum, is a good idea. Let the thieves think they got your stuff, when in reality you have cached more away in hidden spots. That is a post for another day. I could write a 10K essay on this subject, but my hope here is to get you to write up an evacuation plan and keep improving upon it. Keep it to one sheet of paper, anymore and you run the risk of becoming overwhelmed and making mistakes at a time when mistakes can get you killed.
Step 4 – Organization
All of the previous steps require you to organize. If your important papers and pictures are spread around the house, your chances of a successful departure are reduced exponentially. By staying organized your mind can work better too during a stressful time. Now, think about having to bug out quickly because the golden horde is upon you. You have minutes to escape or be pinned down in your home, outnumbered and desperate. Do you really want to be thinking about what to do, or just grab and go. A second evacuation list for different scenarios might not be a bad idea. You will only get one chance, don’t leave it to chance. Get organized.