The American Survival Guide Presents:
Disaster Evacuation: Are you ready?
Goals and Objectives:
• Inform the reader of possible dangers in their immediate area.
• Provide a realistic view of possible scenarios.
• Assist in building low maintenance survival plans.
• Teach the reader how to be better able to survive a disaster with as little distress as possible.
In our daily lives, a disaster bad enough to require immediate evacuation is an extremely rare event. It is something we generally do not think about and certainly hope never happens. Watching the evening news however, shows us these events happen all over the globe and no one can predict where they will happen next. It is prudent to prepare for your family to evacuate at a moments notice should the need arise. This article is intended to assist you in creating a Family Evacuation Plan.
In every area of the United States there are widely known hazards we hear about every year. Massive hurricanes on the east coast, tornadoes in the central plains, Blizzards in the western mountains and the north east, droughts in the south west, heat waves that can hit any where. No where is totally safe from nature’s wrath. Preparing for a Hurricane when you live in Spokane Washington might be a bit foolish, but preparing for a forest fire or an ice storm might be a pretty good idea! Here is a Family Disaster Risk Evaluation Sheet which will help you recognize what threats may potentially be in your area. Take some time and look this list over and ask yourself if any of these could happen to you.
If one of these disasters were to cause your family to flee your home how would you survive? Ask yourself these questions.
- How immediate is the danger?
- Do I have to gather family members before evacuating?
o Kids in school.
o Spouse at work.
o Parents in nursing home.
- Will I have time to pack any essentials?
- How long will the evacuation last?
o The Hurricane may only be a day or two BUT…
o House wiped from the earth, what now?
- Where will you and your family evacuate to?
o What is my planned escape route?
o What is my planned destination?
o Will there be fuel on your escape route?
- What will my family eat, drink, wear, sleep on, and live in?
- Where will we get money?
o Katrina evacuees learned quickly ATM’s were either empty or did not work without electricity and phone lines.
o Cash, lots of is needed.
- What documents are irreplaceable? Photographs? Insurance papers?
- Who will protect us from the riots? Looters? Thieves?
Don’t panic. We have suggestions to these very tough questions. Right now you have a chance to prevent the worst in the worst case scenario. Planning is the real key here. If you have a plan with nothing else, you are ahead of most people. Taking the time to prepare for a really bad day can save your life and the lives of your family.
Our mission here is to help you not only to survive, but to survive as comfortably as possible with out inconveniencing your current lives in any major way. This only takes a small amount of work and a little planning. With our help the planning should go fairly well. For instance, if you had 2 normal sized backpacks pre-filled with specific goodies, a fast evacuation lasting a week or more would only be an adventure instead of a constant stressful crisis. It is amazing how much relief can come from a well supplied back pack, that sits quietly next to the front door for 10 months, only to save the day when you need it the most. Doesn’t this sound good? It does to me.
Answering your questions.
Get out the Family Disaster Risk Evaluation Sheet and make sure you are confident in what you wrote on it for your geographic area. Answering the proposed question will need this evaluation done. It is a good tool to keep your planning in line with what you will really need.
How immediate is the danger?
Some disasters will happen so fast, every survival tactic is a reaction not preparation. Others you will see coming on the news for days and this will bring its own problems. Looking at the Katrina Hurricane, if you were in the evacuation area, would you have been in the massive exodus that clogged highways for hours or would you be the person who heeded the very first warning and fled as soon as the call went out and you were in front of the bottle neck? Know when to flee and know when to drop everything and run. It is hard to leave all you know behind, so if you prepare now, grabbing a couple of well placed items can make the experience much easier. It all comes down to knowing the dangers on you list.
Do I have to gather family members before I evacuate and will I have time to do so?
If you have children, do you know what their school has for a disaster plan? How long does it take for you to leave work, drive to the school and then evacuate? Will the children have been evacuated prior to your arrival? What is their destination?
I looked at my youngest child’s primary school’s website. I found the following sentence after looking at 12 web pages. (Glad to see it was easy to find!)
“FYI: (EDIT: Removed town name) Public Schools do not release students early due to weather. Too many of our children would be unsupervised or would have no where to go. We also do not delay the start of school. If there was some kind of school emergency, you would receive a call. Please make sure to update your telephone number so that we can get a hold of you in an emergency.”
I further went to the school district website and hunted for about a half hour and finally found the “Policies.pdf”. On page 114 of 571 I finally found the “Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan, (Formerly: Crisis Response Plan)”. I read all 12 pages of the plan and realized, there is no real plan. There are several pages on how they have to approve the plan yearly, several pages on fire drills, and several pages on Bomb Threats and how they are against the law. No where does it talk about locking down the school in the event of a threat, or what happens if the fire drill isn’t a drill. Oh, let the children stand outside in the cold until some one realizes they need lots of buses soon. Great planning. Hopefully your kids school is better prepared. Also take note of how in depth I had to look to learn these facts about our school, you will probably have to do the same.
Will I have time to pack essentials?
You have time right now don’t you? What is an essential item? Here are some good suggestions.
• Insurance Paperwork
• Deeds, Titles, Mortgage Paperwork, Birth Certificates, etc.
• A few flash drives with all your digital content, photos, emails, documents, etc.
• Spare Glasses
• First aid kit
• Hygiene and Feminine products.
The paperwork is really easy to prepare. Get a small, portable fire safe for the documents. Keep the documents and the flash drives in the safe. Keep the safe in a easily accessible location you can grab on the way out the door. The safe will travel nicely in a vehicle, but if you end up walking and abandoning your vehicle, you will want to protect the contents from water damage. A few zip locking bags are handy for protecting documents like this. If you have a collection of hard copy photographs you want to protect from loss, have them scanned to a digital format and added to the flash drives. Should you ever have a fire, your digital copies can be printed out and replacements made for the lost photos.
Clothing should also be protected from water. If your bag is not water proof, put the clothing into watertight bags.
How long will the evacuation last?
This will depend on the type of disaster involved. A hurricane can keep people away from their homes for a few days, weeks, up to a month or even more as the people in New Orleans discovered. Some of the people who fled New Orleans did not return to the city, but stayed where they fled to. A tornado might only need a frantic half hour in a storm shelter. This variation really stresses the need to determine the types of threats in your area and then tailoring your plans with these threats in mind.
Where will you and your family evacuate to?
Do you have a place to flee to? I have a couple in different directions. Let’s face it, the most likely reason you have to leave your home in a big hurry will be a chemical spill of some kind. Probably only be a day or so of inconvenience. Less than a ½ mile from my house is a railroad. A train hits a tractor trailer and derails and some tanker with a nasty chemical is spilled. It happens. They make you leave so you don’t die or worse, sue them, and they clean it up. A day or two later, you are back home watching it on the news.
What if your city is 35000 people and they ALL have to leave the area for a few days. The surrounding towns will have NO hotel rooms. Sounds like a good day for a vacation. Do you have a relative you can visit in a near by town for a day or two? Do you have the cash for a couple nights in a hotel if you have to? If you have pets with you, will they be allowed in the room? My metro area is a combination of two cities with a combined 59,000 people. The railroad goes right through the middle of both cities. So is my scenario really that far fetched? Could it happen, you bet. Am I ready? More than most, but I can do more.
What will my family eat, drink, wear, sleep on, and live in?
Prepare a Bug Out Bag now for you and your family. The American Survival Guide will be presenting an article shortly on the bug out bag, but until then, there are dozens of articles on the internet covering the bug out bag. Just make sure it includes the basics, Water, Food, Clothing, Shelter, Medications, and other needed items like toilet paper or a lighter. Just think as though you were going to go hiking for a week in the woods, what would you take?
Where will we get money?
Katrina evacuees learned quickly ATM’s were either empty or did not work without electricity and phone lines. Cash, and lots of is needed.
Will we be safe?
Consider you may need to protect yourself and your family. There are several things to realize, first the police do not have an obligation to protect you. The United States Supreme Court has ruled several times on this. Do an internet search on “Warren v. District of Columbia” to start you on your own research on this topic. Personal Protection is just that ‘personal’. We recommend being trained in the use of firearms.
We also recommend to avoid all relocation camps, fema camps, or other government run evacuation sites. Historically the fema camps will disarm all evacuees. These camps have also been the site of rapes, robberies, and other violent acts. Do your family a favor and plan your own evacuation with out relying on the government.
This being said, the fema website does have some very good reading material on preparing for disasters. FEMA.GOV