if I have to evacuate?
and convenient preparations
Power outages, fires, floods,
earthquakes, wind, and storms can interrupt utilities, phones, stores,
ATMs, and travel. You can be forced to leave your home because of
flooding, sewage backflow, fire, chemical accident, or terrorist
threat. These things occur when you are least prepared. This is an
inexpensive common sense preparation document.
The large disaster relief
organizations can provide basic relief for a lot of people, but need a
few days to get set up. Wise people are prepared to handle problems on
their own for a week.
Don't buy any survival kits or
anything you are not familiar with. After the power goes out is not the
time to try something out. Don't waste your money buying "special
survival food". It will probably get old before you need it.
This is not a complete guide to
preparation; it is only to give you a starting place. Experience,
training and special equipment provides better preparation. And nothing
is better than common sense (which doesn't seem to be very common).
Copyright 2005-2020 Ken Young (http://www.DinoDudes.com).
This document may be freely
redistributed for educational purposes at no charge in unaltered form.
This information is for educational
purposes only. There is no guarantee of any kind that it is accurate,
or that no harm will come to anyone who uses it.
This information is provided on an
"as is" basis with absolutely no warranty or guarantee. The information
is not necessarily correct, complete, or suitable for any particular
use. The entire risk is with you. Should harm arise from using this
information, you assume responsibility for all damages and injuries. In
no event shall the copyright holder, or any other party, be liable for
compensation or damages arising from the use, misuse, failure to use,
or inability to use this information.
Prepare to evacuate
- Agree beforehand to call a
certain relative in another city in case of separation away from home.
Remind everyone before going on vacation.
- Agree beforehand on a certain neighbor's house to meet at if you
can't go into the house for any reason.
- Make a quick-exit list of what
to take so nothing is forgotten. Include the probable locations of
these items. Mark certain items as essential (and put them at the top
of the list) in case you have to leave immediately with only what you
can carry. List items together if they are close to each other. Update
the list annually. Tape the list to the inside of a closet or cabinet
door where you keep some of the stuff. You must be able to get ready in
15 minutes; time how long it takes to touch everything on the list.
Getting it below 10 minutes is better; you might not have a
- If evacuating is a possibility, get your stuff together ahead of
time. If the police or fire department knocks on your door and says to
leave in 5 minutes, they aren't kidding. They will only do that if you
are in immediate peril. Get out in 1 minute.
- If the disaster affects the entire area, the national guard may
evacuate it afterward in order to provide better security. You may have
evacuate after the obvious disaster has passed.
- There are certain records,
valuables, and heirlooms you do not want to lose. List them and where
they usually are. Update the list annually. The valuables should all
fit on one container, perhaps a special briefcase or plastic box. Tape
the list of valuables inside the lid. If the time of need should ever
come, dump the Christmas ornaments out of the container, round up
everything on the valuables list, and put them in. You must be able to
round everything up in 5 minutes; time how long it takes to touch
everything on the list. The time you spend rounding up valuables counts
against the 15-minute quick-exit.
- Maintain a travel kit,
everything you need to travel except clothes. This is great for
traveling, too. Put spare glasses in the travel kit so your vacation
won't be ruined. You can buy glasses over the Internet for $7.
- Keep a zip-kit in your car. It
is small, cheap,
and is just enough to get you home.
- Keep a 72-hour kit in the
trunk of your car
in case you have to leave in a hurry, or if you can't go home. It
is small and affordable, but lets you get by for a few days away from
home. It is pretty handy to have this stuff in your car for life's
- Most people will face the
emergency of jumping in their car to help a friend or relative. Most of
them start the trip by driving an hour in the wrong direction and then
spending half an hour packing. And they forget essentials because they
packed in a hurry. Keep a 72-hour
kit in the trunk of your car. Don't show up 3 hours late with half
of what you need.
- Maintain a camping kit, even if
you don't camp. Camp once a year whether you like it or not to stay
- Pets usually do better if you
leave them behind. They only need saving
from fires and floods. If you bring them, they will find a way to
escape and get lost. If you leave them, they will be there when you
- Put a "pet inside" sign up
where you leave your pet.
- Rescue workers must sometimes
shoot pets to save their owners. They hate it. Leave the pets behind.
- Bringing pets can prevent you from receiving non-emergency
transportation. Your family could get stuck somewhere for while
if you insist on bringing pets.
- Many shelters cannot take pets.
You will be sleeping in the car in the cold with your pets walking all
over you. To make room you will put your possessions out in the rain.
- Do not turn pets loose unless
necessary; emergency vehicles hit them. This kills the pet and disables
the emergency vehicle. People will be endangered by the loss of the
- Many pet web sites say the
has a higher chance of survival if you bring it and care for it. This
web site is about saving people and says everyone is better off if you
leave them (except in fires or floods). You
can't help people if you are helping animals. Bringing your pet
improves the pet's chances, but decreases the chances of your spouse,
children, and the people you might help. Decide what your
priorities are in advance.
- When dropping off your pet or
temporarily leaving them behind, make sure they have their regular food
and something that smells like you. If the separation is extended,
visit and play with them (it will help you as much as them).
- Get ID and credentials from anyone who wants to check on your
pets. Legitimate people will have membership ID for their organization.
Others may be making a list of unoccupied homes without dogs.
- When preparing to evacuate in a
hurry, the first thing to do is turn off the ringers on all the phones.
The phones will ring non-stop when everyone you know calls to make sure
you are OK and talk about the disaster. It will take several minutes to
reassure each one that you are OK and will be leaving soon. Except you
won't because you are talking on the phone instead. If not getting out
in time is a possibility, the phone will make not getting out in time
- If something is not where it is supposed to be, do not look for
it. In the stress of the minute it is too easy to spend all your time
hunting for one thing. Then you either do not get out in time because
you got hung up looking for something you do not need, or you don't
bring anything you need because you spent all the time looking for
something you don't. Whatever it is, you can get by without that one
- It is often possible to forward
your home phone calls to your wireless number, if you feel that is the
best thing to do.
- Limit non-emergency calls to
conserve battery power and free-up wireless networks for emergency
agencies and operations.
- Preserve cell phone battery
life if you can't recharge. Establish "on-air" times, and only turn the
phone on to receive calls at those times. Turn off background
- Be careful using navigation apps and GPS. Sometimes they can
direct you into the trouble.
Things to put on your
- Do first reminder: Put the phones on silent and start ignoring
them until you are on the road.
- Second reminder: If it is not where it is supposed to be, do not
look for it.
- Money (cash, checks, credit
cards, etc). This is essential.
- Everyone's travel kit (probably
- 3 days supplies for everyone's
special needs (medicines, baby food, feminine hygiene, etc). This may
- A cell phone, charger, &
phone numbers of everyone you know (possibly essential). A car charger
- Boots, raingear and jackets
(bring spare shoes if you are wearing the boots). Disposable galoshes
may work for you.
- A suitcase or two full of
clothes for 3 days, preferably with their hangers
- The box of valuables
- IDs, passports, et cetera.
- A list of things for the kids
to get to make them feel helpful, to give them things that will make
them more comfortable until you return, and also to keep them out of
the way. Ideas include 3 toys each, color crayons & paper, one game
each, one favorite thing each, a small treasure box each, etc.
- The camping kit
- The household emergency kit
- Water for a few days
- Blankets or sleeping bags.
Bring pillows if you have room.
- The computer backups
- Flashlights and lots of
- A toolbox
- Bring a garden trowel, trash
bags, and 3 days worth of toilet paper or baby wipes. Baby wipes are
better than toilet paper, and can be used for cleaning other things.
- A days worth of food that does
not require cooking or refrigeration. This can be bread and peanut
- Hand sanitizer
- A bath towel & washcloth
- 3 wire coat hangers per person,
best accomplished by bringing the clothes with their hangars.
- Spare shoes are nice, because
you will probably step in mud or water at some point.
- Since you are going to ignore
all advice to leave the pets behind, bring pooper-scoopers to clean up
after them until they escape.
This suggested quick-exit list is
the most important items on top in case you run out of time, and
assumes you are leaving in a car. Group items on the list according to
where they are to make them easier to round up. Do not bring stuff not
on the list, unless you are sure the house will be destroyed. The two
big mistakes are to bring too much stuff and to take too long getting
Make a note at the bottom of the
list: Turn off the electricity (and possibly the gas) if you expect
flooding. Floodwater can short out wiring and burn your house down to
Assume that if you have to evacuate
because of the danger of fire, flood, or storm that your neighbors will
too. Assume you are evacuating to a place with food, shelter, and
medical care, but you may have to go without for a day or so.
The traffic getting out will be stop
& go. The people who take too long to get ready will be stuck in it
the longest. If not getting out in time is a possibility, these are the
ones who won't make it.
- Get receipts for everything and keep them in a safe place. You
reimbursed for some of it by insurance, FEMA, or some other
organization. Photograph them if you have enough digital storage.
- People may show up offering to check on your pets. If they have
appropriate ID they are legitamate. If not they may be looters who want
a list of unocupied houses without big dogs guarding them.
- Insurance scammers will show up. They want to get to you first.
Only talk to your insurance company.
- Legitimate licensed contractors will be too busy to talk to you.
Scammers will come and find you.
- Rentals could be hard to find, so scammers will post fake rental
listings. They will want you to send money or financial information
before seeing anything for a credit check or other bogus purpose.
Others will rent property they don't own; look for signs of occupation
or forced entry. Don't rent from someone you don't see in person.
- Wait until the authorities say
it is safe
- Check the house and property
- Don't enter a building that
looks crooked or out of plumb. A building might still be safe to enter
with cracks and large holes, but one that isn't standing up straight
can collapse on you without warning.
- Check the entire property for
obvious dangers like animals, propane tanks, downed power lines,
electrical sparks, floodwater, drugs, weapons, smoldering fires, et
- Sniff for gas leaks and check
the gas meter to see if it is spinning. Don't enter the building or
turn anything electrical on or off if so. Flipping a switch normally
causes a small spark, which can ignite gas and destroy your property.
- If the gas is off, don't turn
it on. Call the gas company. Air in the pipes can turn them into pipe
- If the propane is off, have the
system checked out before you turn it back on.
- Don't turn on the electrical
panel if you have wet shoes.
- Don't let the kids enter until
you have determined it is safe.
- Forcing a jammed door in a
damaged structure may move what was holding something up. Examine the
situation carefully and determine why the door is jammed.
- It's best to inspect wearing protective
clothing, gloves, steel toed boots, goggles, and a respirator (a dust
mask with two strings). If you don't expect trouble, at least wear
shoes, gloves, long sleeves, and long pants. Even if it is hot.
- Don't walk on sagging flooring.
- If an appliance is affected,
unplug it and inspect it later.
- Get receipts for everything and keep them in a safe place. Scan
all receipts. You may be
reimbursed for some of it by insurance, FEMA, or some other