What Should I Take if I Am Forced To Evacuate?
With hurricane season upon us in the eastern and southern United States and wildfires burning throughout the western states, the probability of evacuations in some areas is almost guaranteed. Don’t think, however, that we who aren’t on the coast or surrounded by dry forests or grasslands are immune to potential evacuations. Many other issues can force evacuations. Consider a train derailment with cars carrying some form of hazardous gas such as chlorine. What about a radiation leak from either a nuclear power plant, or radioactive material in transport? If we live near a road, railroad, or navigable body of water, we are subject to chemical exposure in the event of an accident. Another cause for evacuation is some form of civil unrest. While I have no objection to standing my ground, some times we have to realize that simple probability tells us that standing alone against an angry mob laying siege to our home is suicide and serves no purpose. We should all consider the possibility of an evacuation.
Why Should I Have An Evacuation Plan?
Evacuations are very similar to Bug Out situations with the exception that we often have a little more time to evacuate if we stay aware of the news and other surrounding factors. I mentioned this idea in my post on situational awareness that can be found here. Usually the cues are listed on the news and weather programs and can be readily heeded if we have a plan in place. Other times we need to have keen senses about the changes we see around us, both physical and societal.
Having a tested Evacuation Plan is much like trying our bug out bags on an overnight trip. We can adjust things based on the actual feedback we get from trying our our plans. Having an evacuation vehicle set up only to realize its impossible to load everything because of space or getting everything loaded and realizing that, while it fits, the weight of the load makes traveling unsafe is not what we want to learn with a wildfire bearing down on our home.
Evacuation Planning Considerations
Ideally, we could take everything we wanted to protect with us, however this is impossible. The good news is that there are more ways now than ever to help limit our loss should disaster strike while we are evacuated. The following are some items and ideas to consider for a solid evacuation plan. Take a look at my video below for a quick rundown of some of my personal thoughts on evacuation.
If you have ever seen the movie “Dante’s Peak” with Pierce Brosnan, you likely remember the jacked up Chevy Suburban 4X4 that they forded the river in to escape the volcano. When bug out or evacuation vehicles come to mind, that one seems like it would be the best choice for the job but reliability and room are some of the key items we need to look for. Utilizing every driver in the family or group in a separate vehicle is a possibility to move as much to safety as possible, however, remember that the more vehicles we take, the more fuel expense we will incur. Another consideration no matter the vehicle or vehicles we chose, we will have to park them somewhere and hotels, motels, and any other place you might stop for a rest will be full of other evacuees as well. I have a few Ideas that might help simplify the process. You can also see some everyday vehicle preparedness ideas in my blog post here.
RV’s For Evacuation
While it might not be cost effective to purchase a recreational vehicle just for evacuation purposes, many of us have or have had some sort of travel trailer or motorhome. With careful planning, these can be very effective vehicles to use in an evacuation because you can use the space for both storage as well as temporary shelter when you are away. Packing the vehicle with items we want to evacuate with may crowd the interior, but we can usually find some other method of storage once we reach a safe destination for the bulk of the belongings. A mini storage unit or one of the portable sheds that can be delivered can house a lot of things while we use the RV for a place to live and the cost of a storage unit vs. the price of lodging in a motel is an amazing difference.
Enclosed Trailers For Evacuation
Much like a recreational vehicle, these trailers are enclosed from the weather and can be towed behind one of the family vehicles, however they aren’t set up to be used as shelter even though it’s still better than being out in the weather if you have to stay in it. The added benefit to enclosed cargo trailers is that we have open space and no furnishings to weave things into. These trailers are also much less expensive than an RV so keeping one on hand and maintained for emergency evacuation is much more financially feasible if you have no plans to use an RV for recreation.
One item of concern for any vehicle evacuation setup is making sure we can fit what we need to in the allotted space. It pays to do a test run whenever we have time and aren’t rushed to determine the best layout of the items in the vehicle. Once that is determined, we need to take several photos or draw a diagram of the layers of packing so we don’t have to try and remember the layout in a rush.
Using quality tarps and straps, we can make an open utility trailer fairly weather resistant, however its much more difficult to prevent theft. Click on the items below to take a closer look and see if you can use them to help you:
Evacuation Vehicle Safety
In an emergency, its easy to ignore safety, however when it comes to vehicles, we cant afford to overlook safe loading and handling. Just because we have cubic feet or inches to spare in a vehicle or trailer doesn’t mean we can fill it full of more things. loading back seats to the roof can lead to objects becoming projectiles in a hard stop or collision. Improperly loaded pickups, suv’s, and trailers can cause poor handling and lead to dangerous conditions on the road. The more things we want to evacuate with, the larger vehicle we will need to haul it safely.
Replacing Items Left Behind in an Evacuation
Most of us who have a permanent residence almost always collect much more stuff than we could ever move in one trip and likely wouldn’t have enough time to load it if we had the transportation available. With this in mind, it’s time for us to consider what we really must take with us and save vs. what has no sentimental value and we are willing to replace if it is destroyed. It is a personal decision and one that should be made as a household or family and we should consider how to transport and store anything we refuse to leave well ahead of time.
Photographing Belongings For Insurance Purposes
We live in an instant photograph age and have phones with cameras on them better than the ones used professionally by photographers fifteen years ago. With the help of this technology, we can catalog our belongings as proof to insurance companies if they are damaged while we are evacuated. A conversation with your insurance agent as to your policy limits is also important to consider when preparing for a potential loss.
Anther benefit of the digital age, as it pertains to evacuation and bugging out, is the availability of digital storage. We can scan thousands of pages of documents and photos to a single flash or thumb drive. Planning ahead and taking a few hours to scan and save our documents and photographs digitally can make them much less likely to be lost permanently in a fire or disaster. We should update and review these files on a regular basis and keep a copy of the files on a drive stored in the cloud or at another location such as a safe deposit box so we have a backup to our backup. Grab a multi pack of these by clicking the picture below:
Final Thoughts on Evacuation Prepping
Leaving our homes in an emergency is usually a trying and uncertain task, but some effort on our part before hand can limit the stress and potential loss involved. As with all other parts of prepping, this takes some planning and practice. Carving out a few hours to review and plan can make a difficult situation much more palatable if we ever find ourselves in one.
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