Disaster Prep Summer Series: Evacuation Plans and Lists

Photo by Tyler Tate

In this post we are going to be discussing the ins and outs of evacuation lists.  We will be touching on how to decide to evacuate or stay put in a future post.  

How do I decide what to take?
It is important to put some thought into this question before crunch time.  You will only have a certain amount of time and it is vital that you make the best use of your time.  The best way to do this is to make lists that take into consideration how much time you have and who is home who could help.  Think about do you have older children who can help you, do you have smaller children who could not help you, how close is your spouse to your home...
My family has several different evacuation lists.  We have some for if my husband is home and some for if he is not and how much time we have.  Keep digital copies of these lists on your computer so they can be easily updated and keep printed copies either in your emergency binder or posted on a wall near your emergency supplies. 

Claire's List: A Few Minutes: Husband is Home
Beau's List: A Few Minutes
Claire's List: A Few Minutes: Husband is Gone
Claire's List: 20 + Minutes: Husband is Gone
Claire's List: 20 + Minutes: Husband is Home
Beau's List: 20 + Minutes

Each of the names above are links to our lists so you can see them as an example of where to start.  They are a little out of date (practice what you preach right?!)  Ideally, they should be updated at least once a year and or every time there is a major change in your household.  New house, a new baby, a new puppy, etc.   The smaller amount of time and people you have to evacuate, focus on grabbing only the absolute necessities like shoes, 72 hour bags, wallets, etc.  As you work down your lists and you get to the ones that have more time or more people, you can then start adding on items that are nice to have items like snacks, dvd player for the kids for the car, camping grill, extra water and so on.  What you consider a necessity or nice to have depends on you and your family.  Also remember to add on things like locking all windows and doors, setting your alarm system and locking your garage door.

 **Please remember that any items you choose to take for personal protection should be items that you are comfortable with.  I am not in any way suggesting that one method is the better than another.  Just please remember to use them responsibly and follow all laws pertaining to them.**

So how do you know how much you can do in a set period of time?
Try it!  Do a dry run for each person at each time limit.  If your not able to do it in your time period, take some less important items off.  If you have some left over time, add some more items.  Find a nice balance where everyone is moving the entire time period to make the most of the time.
For lists like my 20 + minutes list, I have listed the top priority items first then as the list continues, the items are less and less important.  I then aim to get gone as much as I can.

How do I decide where to go?
The first thing to consider is do you have any family or very close friends in your area?  Is their area also being affected by the disaster?  If this is something that you are considering, be sure to discuss it with them first to make sure everyone would be comfortable with it.
If you don't have the option of family or close friends close by then you will need to decide between a hotel or a shelter.  Remember that some hotels do not allow pets so consider having a list of which ones in your area do if you have pets.  Also consider that some hotels will significantly jack up prices during an emergency to make an extra buck.  Yes this is unethical and not the nicest thing to do but it does happen so just be aware of it.  You may be able to drive a little farther away to get a better price if that is an option.
Many shelters do not allow pets so consider this when deciding where to go.  Most areas will have pet shelters set up designated pet shelters through the local animal rescue. 
Depending on the circumstances, the Navy may set up their own shelter on base.  If this is the case, your ombudsman, command or the Navy's social media pages should make you aware of the location and provide instructions.  You may also see service members in full uniform walking around the civilian shelters  in groups of 2 or more, looking for military families.  They will be able to direct you to the shelter on base.

Other things to consider.
Consider having an out of state (or at least out of area) emergency contact.  This is someone who everyone in your family will contact if you get separated.  Often local phone lines will become clogged with so many people trying to call each other but long distance calls have a better chance of going through.
Consider having a near by meeting place as well as an out of area meeting place.  If the near by place you have selected is also affected by the disaster, then you may need to go further to another meeting place.  These should be places that everyone in your house knows well like a family members house or a favorite coffee shop.
Consider having an emergency contact card on every family member at all times.  This card should contain the family meet up locations, and all important phone numbers to locate each other.  And do NOT keep this list in your phone only.  If your phone battery dies, you will be in a pickle.  Make sure this is a printed copy kept in your purse, wallet or back pack.  This PDF from Ready Navy has a good template for emergency contact cards.   

Until next week!