Are you prepared for an emergency evacuation due to Mother Nature? Between forest fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and other natural and/or man-made disasters, none of us are completely immune to the threat of having to bug out from our homes.
By Mark, a contributing author to SurvivalCache.com
For certain people that live in high risk zones, it is especially important to be prepared at all times. When you walk out the door, you need to be mentally prepared to never see your home again. The team at Survival Cache wants you to be prepared, so here are some of our ideas on what you need to do before an emergency evacuation in order to be prepared, and what to bring when it actually occurs.
Before any threat has occurred, you always want to make sure that you have an inventory of all the things in your home for the insurance company should a disaster occur. Photos and videos are the best way to inventory, however then you also have to consider how to store the photos so that they are not ruined in the disaster. There are many websites now that allow you to store your photos and videos online for free. Google drive and Apple iCloud are two that provide ample space for free. Your photos/videos will be stored in the cloud at one of their secure data centers. Another idea which we highly recommend is to backup your photos and other important documents to a fireproof and waterproof external hard drive, such as the ioSafe hard drive or a solid thumb drive like the Corsair Flash Survivor Stealth Thumb Drive.
This also goes for important documents such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, social security cards, etc. If you have these items scanned into the computer and backed up to a safe location, this will make your life a lot easier should a disaster occur that causes you to lose everything.
Secondly, you want to prepare your vehicle for an emergency before any threat is imminent. This includes always having certain items in your vehicle such as flashlights, extra batteries, hand crank emergency radio, Life Hammer, fire starter or matches, first aid kit as well as emergency food and extra water/water purification method. We also recommend keeping things like gloves, coats, rain gear, good walking shoes, emergency shelter and boots in your vehicle at all times if you have the space for it.
With your vehicles comes route planning. Plan alternate routes from your home to safe areas. Scout different ways home when you drive back from work, don’t always take the easy way. Know the back roads, know the back highways. Have a link up plan for your family. Plan a link up plan as if mobile phones and text messaging will not work. Example: “If something happens to the area we live in, meet at Uncle John’s house on the hill. We will be safe there and I will discuss with Uncle John.”
As far as what to take with you during an evacuation, this all depends on how much time you have. Also, we recommend that each individual prepare a checklist of items that is the most important for their family. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Don’t Wait, Get Started
1. Important Documents:
-Insurance papers & cards – health, auto, etc
-Corporate Documents (If you own a business)
-Legal documents such as will, etc.
2. Things of Importance & Value:
3. Health Needs:
-Medications for all family members and pets
-Family First Aid Kit
-Non Perishable food
-Several days worth of clothing changes for each family member
-Underwear, PJ’s for all family members
-Coats, hats, gloves depending on weather
-Shoes and/or boots
-A solid 3 or 4 season tent
-Pillows and blankets
Depending upon how much time you have before leaving your house, there are also certain things you can do to prepare your home and your family before you evacuate. The following evac list was prepared by Dick Oates, and can be found at this website (click here). Many of these items apply specifically to evacuation for a forest fire, so they may need to be adjusted for your particular disaster threats.
What to do Before Leaving (compiled by Dick Oates)
Close evacuation car windows, DO NOT LOCK CAR and leave keys in ignition
Close fire resistant window coverings, heavy drapes, and Venetian blinds
Close garage door, leave it unlocked (disconnect automatic garage door opener)
Close or cover outside vents and shutters
Close sliding glass doors into the center of the house (DON’T lock them)
Determine where separated members will meet
Disconnect propane tank
Don’t tie up telephone lines (notify friends and relatives by e-mail where to contact you)
Establish an evacuation plan, travel route, probable destination
Fill bathtubs, sinks, and containers with water
Fill evacuation vehicle gas tank
Follow any official agency’s evacuation instructions
If instructed, tie large white cloth to front door knob
Leave one light on in each general area of your house
Lock doors and windows
Make safety equipment obvious for firefighters (spigots, etc)
Move overstuffed furniture away from windows
Park evacuation vehicle in the garage heading toward street
Place a ladder against the roof of the house on the side opposite the approaching fire
Plug air vents and openings that are close to the ground
Prepare an “information note” to leave on the door detailing who you are, where you are, how to get a hold of you
In your “information note” tell where flammables are (such as gas, ammo, chemicals – move them all into one place)
Release any livestock in the area
Remove combustible items from around the outside of the house
Remove lace, nylon, or light material drapes and curtains
Soak burlap sacks, small rugs, or large rags in containers
Turn off appliances, thermostats, fireplaces, stoves
Turn off natural gas at meter
Turn on exterior lights
With this information, we encourage you all to make your own lists and keep them somewhere where you can easily find them should you ever need to do so. As always, we welcome any additional ideas on how to prepare for an emergency evacuation in the comments section.