“You Have 24 Hours to Get Out”
Would You Be Ready to Evacuate?
Weird weather and natural disasters can lead to the urgent need for Americans to quickly flee their homes for safer territory.
Their whole world has been turned on end in a matter of days or even hours. The truth is, life can throw you a major curve ball at any moment.
When an Emergency Strikes,
It’s Too Late to Prepare
We’d be willing to bet that if you interviewed evacuees affected by severe weather, the vast majority of them would say they never thought something like this would happen to them. Many of them would probably tell you about the mad scramble they had to go through getting ready to leave their homes.
We wager almost all of them would be able to name something they forgot to bring with them that they wished they had.
An emergency like this can happen anytime, anywhere, with little or no warning. If you wait until such an event is underway, you’re too late to prepare. Then you have no choice but to react under extreme stress, to respond as best you can with little to go on other than your instincts.
You can certainly survive a disaster or an emergency that way, but the long-term impact, the losses you experience, will almost definitely be greater than if you’d been prepared in advance.
Your Evacuation Checklist
In many cases, whether you’re facing a natural disaster or a manmade emergency, you hope to weather the storm in your home. Preparing your home for that kind of event is one thing. But, sometimes whatever is coming at you requires you to get out of the way. You need to prepare for both possibilities.
Most people never prepare for an evacuation. It’s an event that sneaks up on them and catches them unaware. An evacuation demands a different kind of readiness, but it is something for which you can prepare.
We recommend you put together an evacuation checklist. Then, if you ever are in a situation that requires evacuation, you can grab the checklist, check off the items as you throw them in your car or complete them, and get out knowing you didn’t miss anything important.
Here’s what to include on your evacuation checklist:
- Basic Supplies: Even FEMA recommends you keep a basic disaster supply kit ready for both at-home and evacuation preparedness. (FEMA officials know better than anyone that their largely incompetent bureaucracy is often incapable of providing meaningful assistance in crisis situations.) This kit should contain things to meet basic needs, including first aid supplies, three days’ worth of non-perishable food, water or water purification tablets, a flashlight, matches, a whistle, and basic sanitation items like paper towels and moist toilettes. Your basic disaster supply kit should go with you during an evacuation.
- Important Files and Documents: Make sure you have your ID with you. It’s a good idea to grab your credit cards, too, so you don’t have to go through the hassle of canceling them if they’re lost or destroyed in the disaster. If you want to put birth certificates and other documents in a grab-and-go file and you have time to grab it, that’s a good plan. However, remember you can get new certified copies of such documents, so don’t risk yourself over them.
- Medications: If anyone in your family takes prescription medications, make sure an adequate supply comes with you in the event of an evacuation.
- Cash or Access to It: During a disaster, it might be hard to get your hands on cash from your bank account, but you may need cash during the event. Keep some cash on hand in case of emergencies and take it with you should you have to evacuate. (Have some silver coins at the ready as well, in case things get REALLY bad.)
- Sensible Clothing and Shoes: Depending on the weather and the nature of the evacuation, you may need to have good, sturdy walking shoes and warm clothes. Put these items on your checklist so you don’t forget them. You may also need blankets or sleeping bags for each person in your family.
- Radio: A battery operated or hand-cranked radio can be a lifeline during an evacuation. The voice on the other end may let you know which routes are safe to leave by and when it’s all right to return to your home.
- Sentimental Items: Time permitting, you may have sentimental items like a journal or photographs that you want to take with you. We recommend you keep a back up of your entire computer hard drive, including digital photos. Then, if you need to evacuate, you can just grab the hard drive and keep a big chunk of your life and personal information intact. If you have kids, they may find a favorite stuffed animal or toy to be very comforting during an evacuation.
When it comes to sentimental items, though, you have to be choosy. You just may not have the time or space to take everything you’d like to. Set your priorities early to avoid indecision when seconds count. It may be smart to sort your list on a room-by-room basis so you aren’t literally running all over the house to gather every item you want to take.
More Than Half the Battle is in Your Head
When it comes to surviving an evacuation or any other disaster, you can’t overlook the importance of mental preparedness. The ability to stay calm, make decisions, remain flexible and even keep a sense of humor through a disaster can make all the difference to how well you and your family come through.
You can begin developing your mental preparedness immediately just by thinking about how you would react if faced with different situations. For example, when you read about a news story of severe weather, pause for a moment and ask yourself, “What if that was me?” Because the odds are that someday, maybe sooner than you think, it will be you.
Get Prepared Early, and Avoid Unnecessary Stress
Being ready for anything doesn’t mean you have to go off the deep end. It doesn’t mean you have to buy into conspiracy theories or sink your savings into building a bomb shelter in your backyard. It just means taking a little time to think about what unexpected events might occur and how you can best cope with them. It means taking a few simple steps and making some smart investments so that you and your family can handle anything that might come up… so that in most cases you can handle it without having to flee your home and so you can handle it in relative comfort and convenience.
You want these to be adventures that you talk about later, not setbacks that haunt you.