While most preparations are centered around being at home, there is always the possibility that you could have to evacuate, and in a hurry. Many events can trigger a mandatory evacuation warning including a severe weather event, chemical spill, uncontrolled fire, floods, mud slides, explosion, gas leak, terror event.. and so many other things. You may have a little time to prepare, but in the event that you don’t, it’s best to have a good plan so you can get moving quickly.
You may already have a bug-out bag, food supplies and a plan for getting out, but in the rush, you may forget some key tasks to secure your home. Below is a quick list to help you make a plan for getting out FAST.
MAKE A LIST
Rather than trying to remember everything that needs to be done before exiting the house, take the time now to make a list of important tasks.
- Do a walk-through to determine what needs to be locked, turned off, put away, etc.
- Locate your home’s electrical panel and learn how to shut off the main breaker to your home.
- Also locate the main shut-off valve to your water supply and learn how to turn off the water at the meter (or at the well).
- If you have propane or natural gas service, find out how to properly shut off the gas to your home. It may be helpful to have a technician help with this task to ensure that you understand how gas pilots might play a role in how gas should be shut off, and more importantly, how it is cut back on.
CREATE A “SHUTOFF” KIT
Having the right tools on-hand will help with the above listed tasks. Be sure that you have the tools necessary to shut off the water, such as a wrench or a “T-Bar” in your toolkit. If there are special steps required, document those steps and keep them with your kit. Owner’s manuals should also be kept on-hand for questions about any appliances you may need to shut off (or restart) during an emergency.
BUILD YOUR EVACUATION KIT
In times of chaos, you may end up grabbing things you don’t really need while leaving important things behind. Having your evacuation kits ready in advance will solve this problem. Preparing for emergency evacuation is often less about purchasing supplies than it is about gathering what you need in a transportable pack or box and keeping it in a convenient place where you can access it on your way out. The easiest kit to carry is an ordinary backpack. While the contents vary by your own personal needs, I’ve included some suggested items:
- Flashlight (either a hand-crank type or battery powered with extra batteries)
- Water jug (collapsible water jugs are available at most sporting good stores)
- Water – this can be bulky and heavy, but water is a MUST
- Water purifier and/or water purification tablets
- Rain suit
- Extra clothing (2-3 changes of clothing with at least one cold-weather set)
- Space Blanket
- Trash Bags (a variety of uses including keeping possessions dry, or even a make-shift rain poncho)
- Basic first-aid kit, supplemented with a supply of your prescription meds and pain relievers
- Extra socks (wool are best for keeping feet dry and warm)
- Toiletries (soap, toothpaste/brush, feminine hygiene products, etc)
- Notepad and pencil
- Spare eyeglasses/contacts
- Cell Phone
- Insect repellent
Some larger items that should be carried if possible:
- Sleeping bag
- Tent (Size appropriate for number of people in party)
- Additional water (can’t have too much water..)
- Additional pillows, blankets, etc for added comfort