The ideal in most situations is what we refer to as “sheltering in place.” Unless you have a fully stocked retreat elsewhere, home is generally where all your preps are located. Thus, you should plan to remain at home unless and until such a time that you are unable to do so.
There are a number of reasons why you’d need to evacuate at a moment’s notice. Locally, there have been a number of gas main breaks in the last year or so. While the residents are typically only evacuated for a short period of time, one never knows how those situations may play out. A couple years back, there was a huge fire at a factory a couple counties away from where I live. Quite a bit of toxic smoke and debris were blanketing the area and residents were forced to flee. Typically in situations like that, you have a very short period of time to get on the road and away from the area.
Because you won’t have the luxury of time to go through the house and neatly pack your belongings, you should put together an evacuation kit ahead of time.
While very similar in content, an evacuation kit differs from your Get Home Bag in a few ways. A Get Home Bag is designed to meet your needs while traveling from Point A to home, on foot if need be. Thus, the contents are more about food, water, and shelter. The evacuation kit, on the other hand, presupposes you have someplace to go (family member’s home, hotel, etc.) and stay for a few days. The kit isn’t meant for living in the rough but rather to give you the materials and tools you’d need to be away from home for a while.
The evacuation kit should be kept in an easily accessible location within the home, such as a closet. Put together one kit for each family member, though you might not need separate packs for each person. Assuming you’ve already put together Get Home Bags and are keeping them in your vehicles, the contents of those will supplement what you have in your evacuation kits.
Here’s what you should have in your evacuation kits.
At least two complete changes of clothes for each person, with extra socks and underwear as well. If you can swing it, include an extra pair of shoes for each person. If you’re roused out of bed in the middle of the night, some or all of you may end up shoeless on your way out the door.
Maps of the area, including planned routes of evacuation and a list of local emergency shelters.
Money (cash, coins, credit cards).
Copies of important papers, such as insurance policies, vehicle and home ownership, pet vaccination records, identification.
Copies of treasured family photos. You could scan them in and save them on a thumb drive. Include current photos of every family member and family pet.
Snacks like dried fruit and nuts, granola bars, and/or crackers.
At least one, preferably two, water bottles for each person. Don’t forget water purification tablets or another means of purifying water, just in case the disaster causes problems with the water supply.
Small first aid kit and an extra supply of any prescription medications that may be necessary.
Hygiene supplies, such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, bar of soap, and a washcloth. A roll or three of toilet paper is a good idea, as are extra feminine hygiene supplies.
Flashlights will be welcome if the evacuation is at night and you end up on foot. Headlamps are even better.
A portable radio, either battery or crank powered, will help you keep informed of what’s going on.
Extra batteries for any devices in the kit that require them.
Remember, the idea behind an evacuation kit is to provide for your needs while away from home for a few days. It is meant to be supplemented by your Get Home Bags if the duration of the evacuation is longer than that.
Your assignments this week:
1) Put together an evacuation kit for each member of the family. If everything will fit into one or two bags, so much the better. Stash the kits in a closet or some other location that will be easily remembered and make sure everyone knows where the kits are.
2) Plan ahead for potential evacuation. Talk with family members about the possibility of staying with them for a few days, and vice versa. Determine where emergency shelters are commonly opened in your area, such as churches and schools. While these shelters are typically the last resort for the prepper, it is an option to be explored. The point is, plan out where you could go and how you’d get there.