Disaster Prep Summer Series: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Making the decision to bug in or out can be difficult.  Every different type of emergency/disaster situation presents a different set of things to consider.  Remember, its easy to leave your house but it can be very very difficult to come back until after the emergency is over.

There are several things to consider when making this decision.
1.) What is the disaster?  Local nuclear plant melting down = go now and go fast.  Fires and floods cause more evacuations than anything else.  Remember that fires are not just fires but also smoke.  So even if the fire is not that close to you, the smoke may be cause to leave.
2.) Have the authorities issued an evacuation or stay put order?  Often the authorities will help make this decision for you by issuing orders.  These are not to be ignored.  Pay careful attention to your television or radio for instructions. If you are ordered to evacuate, get out now.  Only stay in your house if there has NOT been an evacuation order or if there is a stay home order.
3.) Where is your house located?  If there is a major flood but you are at the top of a large hill, thats something to take into consideration.
4.) What is the weather doing?  Are large branches falling?  Is it dangerous to be outside?
5.) How prepared are you to bug out?
6.) How prepared are you to bug in?
7.) Can everyone in your house bug out?

Sometimes bugging out can cause you more harm/risk than staying put.  For example, tornadoes can send things flying around in the air making it dangerous to be outside.  Being in your car or on foot can put you at a much higher risk for harm than staying in your home.  Have a safe place picked out in your house and stay there.

Don't be in denial.  So many people looked at Katrina after the fact and said "why did so many people stay when they were ordered to leave?"  Denial.  They didn't believe it would be as bad as it ended up being. For some they believed they were safer in their homes.  Remember the pictures of the roof of the Superdome failing when Katrina hit with all those people inside?

Remember that everything in your house is just stuff.  So many people choose not to leave their homes because they are terrified of loosing everything.  It is terrifying yes but remember it can all be replaced.  You, your family members, pets, cannot be so that needs to be the number one priority.  Just remember to make preparations ahead of time.  Have all photos scanned and backed up so they can be reprinted and have sufficient insurance to cover all of your possessions.  I also recommend having a detailed home inventory.  This will make replacing items much easier.  Store other items in water tight containers to protect them from damage.  You cannot protect every item against every disaster but you can lower the chances of damage.

Another thing to consider is how your decision might affect others.  For example, say you decided to stay home during a hurricane and you are now treed on top of your house as it starts to float away.  What do you do now?  You try and call for help right?  And what about the people that will try and help you?  What kind of danger are they now going to be in trying to help you?  People do this every time and think oh well if I get in trouble I will just call the emergency services.  But by doing this you are putting them in unneeded danger.  Its one thing if you couldn't evacuate and needed help but its another if you were perfectly able to but chose not to.

Make this decision quickly and stick to it.  Don't wait and decide you need to evacuate 5 minutes before the tornato is due to hit.  Give yourself plenty of time to get where you need to go safely and be settled before it hits.