Should You Go?

Look well into thyself; there is a source of strength which will always spring up if thou wilt always look there. – M. Antonius

Evacuation simply means leaving were you are at a given moment in time. In a disaster there are two basic types of evacuation:

  • You are asked to evacuate or leave your home or workplace, but are permitted to stay in the immediate area/community.
  • You are required to evacuate your home, workplace, etc. and must leave the immediate area/community.

Be Prepared!

Either evacuation situation can occur with substantial warning (oncoming storm or hurricane) or with no prior warning at all (earthquake, explosion or tornado). The best way to prepare for any evacuation is to assume you will have little or no advance warning. While you have the luxury of time, build your evacuation kit so you can just grab it on your way out the door. A discussion about the actual decision to stay or go will be addressed in the next section. At this point we want to discuss what you will need if you are required to leave or voluntarily make the decision to evacuate.

No matter whether you are forced to evacuate or go willingly, you won’t be going very far without sufficient fuel. Therefore, NEVER let your car’s fuel tank go below the half-full mark before refueling! (We recently heard the story of a family that was forced to abandon a second vehicle to flooding in their own driveway because it had little more than fumes in the tank.) When you are facing a mass evacuation you can’t waste time looking for open gas stations or waiting in long lines to fill up.

Your Evacuation Kit

Your evacuation kit should contain the minimum basic survival materials you will need for either of the two evacuation scenarios mentioned above. The components of your kit should be stored in a sturdy but lightweight portable container that is easy to carry and, optimally, water resistant. A backpack is ideal because it leaves your hands free; one with wheels gives the flexibility of wearing it or rolling it along as circumstances permit. A “wheelie” (a carry-on suitcase with wheels) also works well.

You really don’t have to buy a new backpack/suitcase; check thrift stores, garage sales or use an older bag that can be retired from regular use. But before you choose your container(s), first determine what supplies you need. After you assemble everything together you will know better what size(s) will suit your needs.

Putting Together Your Evacuation Kit

The supplies (gear and rations) you need to include in your emergency kit should be packed as though you will have to carry the bag without any help. Do not assume you will have access to a car. Based on these guidelines your individual evacuation kit should include, at the very minimum, the following:

  • Drinking Water – One gallon per day/per person
  • Cooking/Washing Water – Half a gallon per day/per person for cooking, cleaning dishes and personal hygiene
  • Personal Medical Items – Prescription medications, contact lens solution, denture supplies or tooth paste and new toothbrush, feminine hygiene products, etc.
  • Emergency Items – Flashlights, batteries, candles, waterproof matches, emergency radio, and first aid kit
  • Cell Phone and Battery Charger
  • Whistle – Each family member should have a lightweight, inexpensive pocket whistle attached to a lanyard and worn around the neck. (The sound of a whistle carries farther than the human voice, so create an identifiable call to get your family’s attention in a crowd. If you are on your own, it can be used as a locator and/or distress signal.)
  • Clothing – One change of clothes, including undergarments, shoes, socks and a warm jacket
  • Bedding – A sleeping bag/blanket or two lightweight thermal blankets, body warmers and optional inflatable pillow. (A survival Sleeping Bag comes in a package no larger than a wallet and costs from $2-5 each. Emergency Thremal Blankets are available for a few dollars each, if purchased in bulk – minimum of 10. Both are very compact and resuable. Some disposable body warmers are advertised to last 20+ hours and costs around $2 each.) Search the web for options.
  • Non-perishable Portable Food – Protein snacks or trail mix
  • Knife – A Swiss Army/Leatherman Knife or other multi-purpose hand held tool
  • Cash – Several hundred dollars (in small denominations), if you can spare it, in case ATM’s are depleted, inaccessible or non-operational
  • Car Keys – An extra car and house key should stay in your evacuation kit so you always know where one set is located
  • If you will be carrying supplies for other members of the family who are unable to carry their own kit, minimize weight by opting for the lightest weight articles available and eliminate any non-essentials you may have included. If you have infants or pets, be sure to include the following items:
  • Baby Items – Several days’ worth of diapers, formula, extra clothes and blankets
  • Pet Items – A carrier/crate or leash as well as food and water for several days (include food and water dishes)

Next>> Month 7: Important Papers