Thursday, May 21, 2015

Emergency Preparedness: Week 6 - Evacuation

Sometimes emergencies happen without warning.  Sometimes, though, we have a small window of time that we can gather our belongings, and head for safer ground.

When I was in high school, a massive wildfire erupted in my hometown.

I was raised on 72 acres of farmland, in the middle of a huge hunting club.
 Wooded land surrounded us for miles.  The fire started in those woods.
We could stand on a hill and watch the flames rolling in the tree tops.
The momentum of the flames - indescribable.

It crossed miles of land in a moment's notice.
I can remember standing around our house with a water hose, spraying water over our roof, praying that the embers from the nearby fire wouldn't cause our home to burn...

The fire began to get to close to our home, and we were ordered to evacuate.
This was before pictures were uploaded to the web, and I can remember my mom running down our hallway, throwing family photos into a laundry basket.

We were each given a task.  My sister and I were to pack as many clothes as we could fit in our baskets, my mom took all photos and important documents in her basket, and my dad and brother loaded all of the animals up with their necessities.

Within ten minutes we were on our way to town, with everything that we could grab, fearful that we had forgotten something of worth.

Thankfully, though there were structures burned, our home survived.  The fire didn't even cross our property line.

We learned such valuable lessons, though:

1.  Proper preparation is important -
Each emergency is different.  For example, before evacuating you may see people boarding their windows (to help with destruction from winds), but if a homeowner is expecting flooding or fire, boarding windows will not help.  Find out what you should do to prepare for the emergency you are facing.  Only prepare your home, if time allows.  Do not risk your safety or the safety of your family to save your home.  Houses and things can be replaced.... Loved ones cannot.

2.  Organization is key.Have a plan in place - Where will you go?  (Planning the final location for your family to arrive at after evacuating is SO important.  Communication methods may not work - cell phones, landline phones, internet, etc - and your family may not be together when evacuation orders are given.  Knowing where you are going will ease the fear of finding lost loved ones.)
Who will be responsible for what?  (This will save time.)
What needs to go?  (Prioritizing possessions by worth is important.  If you know what needs to go, you don't waste space with replaceable items.)
Organize important information in the Family Notebook that I'll share next week.


3.  Fuel Up!
If you suspect an evacuation order may come soon, before you do anything else, go fuel up your vehicle - get a FULL tank, and (if you have a well ventilated area to store it, such as a truck bed) fill up extra gas cans.  ((follow manufacturer's suggestions))
When you evacuate, thousands, hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions (if you are in a metropolis) of other people will be on the same evacuation route.  There will be traffic jams on small roads, gas stations will be packed, and you'll find a trip that would have normally taken a small amount of time will turn into hours...

4.  Snack Up!
It may be hours before you are out of your car.  Pack plenty of food for everyone to eat.  I also have a camping toilet (a special, bucket style potty - like this) that I keep on hand, just in case we have to evacuate.  Hell hath no fury, like a four year old who has to go, RIGHT NOW!  ((I keep an extra gallon of water, spray cleaner, paper towels, toilet tissue, etc. to clean up, if she HAS to use it.)) 
We have a backpack that has protein bars, wet wipes, water, and ready to go meals shrink wrapped together.  I've also added a few games, extra cell phone chargers and an extra car charger for my little one's tablet.  If we are stuck on the road, entertainment will help distract from the bore of waiting.

***DO NOT FORGET*** Medicines, Diapers, Formula, ETC.  The most important part of your evacuation plan is caring for the elderly and children.  Once their needs are cared for, follow up with the "details".

Planning ahead is gist of it all.

If you are prepared, evacuation will not be as traumatizing as it would be if you don't plan ahead.

So, let's get organized!  I can't wait to share my family notebook with you, next week!  It will definitely ease your stress in planning for an emergency.
It helps to have all of your important information (down to your financial info) in one, central location.

Go prep for an evacuation, y'all!  You never know when you'll have to leave in a hurry.


((PS - Don't forget to create a post sharing how you are preparing your family for an emergency, and come back to link it up... last post of the series, week 8))

Some great products to have on hand if you are evacuating:

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