We can’t always predict when an emergency will happen that will force us to evacuate from our homes. But it happens more often than you think. In FEMA’s Planning Considerations guide, they report that more than 8 million people were affected by evacuation orders in America in 2017. Here are just some of the forced emergency evacuations FEMA included in their report:
- Flooding in February near the Oroville Dam in California caused an evacuation of over 180,000 people.
- Hurricane Harvey struck Texas in August and resulted in the evacuation of over 780,000 people.
- Hurricane Irma struck Florida in September and resulted in evacuation orders covering a record 6.8 million residents.
- Wildfires in California forced the evacuation of over 100,000 residents.
The problem with emergency evacuations is that most people aren’t prepared and take too much time to get ready to leave. For those who wait, they wind up stuck in dangerous situations or standstill traffic for hours.
For instance, when Hurricane Rita headed toward Texas in 2005, millions of people evacuated. However, thousands of these evacuees ran out of gas and ended up stranded in a 100-mile traffic jam. (This is why you should always keep your vehicle’s gas tank full and try to keep it at least half-full while evacuating since you may face gas shortages.)
If you want to avoid these disastrous emergency evacuation scenarios, then you need to prepare for the possibility in advance. The best way to prepare is to store emergency evacuations must-haves that you can simply grab and go.
How to store emergency evacuation supplies
My Patriot Supply sells a pre-packaged preparedness crate for emergencies that contains over 60 survival items, which is ideal for emergency evacuations. A great feature is how the items are stored – within a rugged, water-resistant ammo crate container with easy-to-carry handles.Whether you call it a bug-out bag, an emergency kit, a go-bag, or a preparedness crate, the purpose is the same. You need something that allows you to store your emergency supplies safely. Ideally, you want a bag or bin that you can simply grab and go. Some people prefer bags because they can throw them over their shoulders and literally run, while others like kits with handles that they can carry with ease.
Safeguarding important documents
It’s critical to take your important documents with you when you evacuate.
Unfortunately, you are evacuating because something bad may happen to your home. If you leave important documents behind, such as birth certificates and wills, you risk them getting destroyed. Not only do you risk losing them, but you also may need these documents to re-enter your home after the disaster (when proof of address is required).
Here is a list of the documents to take with you during an emergency evacuation:
- Driver’s license
- The deed to your house
- Your will or trust
- Proof of insurance/insurance policies
- Medical records
- Social security cards
- Birth certificates
- Immunization records
- Pet vaccination records
If you don’t already store these important documents in a waterproof, fireproof safe or box, it is time to invest in one. If you keep all of these documents in a safe, then you will be able to grab them quickly before you evacuate.
Many people also choose to make a digital archive of these important documents as an additional form of protection. This means they take photos of each of their important documents and then either save the image files to a USB thumb drive or they upload the images to a safe cloud storage service.
Why cash is a necessity
When evacuating, it is important to take your credit and debit cards, as well as cash. Many people think having their credit cards or debit cards is enough, but there may be situations that make it difficult to gain access to your bank account to get cash. As Annalee Leonard, president of Mainstay Financial Group, explains to Yahoo News, “Banks and ATMs may not be up and running for days after a strong storm. I recommend my clients have three to five days’ worth of spending money, just in case.”
How much food and water
Food and water are essential for survival, and you can’t assume you will be able to get some during an emergency evacuation. For instance, when hurricanes head to coastal communities, grocery stores tend to run out of water and nonperishable food items. That’s why it is important to have enough food and water for your family for a minimum of 72 hours. The recent addition of “a maximum of 14 days” is because people tend to be displaced after major disasters for more than three days.
When deciding how much water and food to put in your emergency evacuation kit versus what to stock, the American Red Cross suggests:
- Water: one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
- Food: non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
What else to pack in your bug-out bag
In addition to important documents, cash, food, and water, there are other emergency evacuation must-haves.
- Clothing – During an evacuation, you do not have space to pack all your clothing. Clothing is replaceable. Therefore, only pack the clothing items that are must-haves, such as socks, sturdy shoes, pants, and long-sleeved shirts.
- Medications – Prescription medications (get refilled before you evacuate if possible) and nonprescription medications such as pain relievers
- Baby supplies – Diapers, wipes, and formula
- Pet supplies – Pet food and a leash
- Hygiene supplies – Wet wipes, hand sanitizer, face masks
- Fire supplies – Matches, lighter, or candles
- Extra power sources – batteries and spare chargers
- Battery-powered or solar-powered hand crank radio
- Cell phone and charger
- First aid kit
- Duct tape
- Multipurpose tool or a pocketknife
While you can gather all these items individually, you may want to invest in one of My Patriot Supply’s Survival Kits, which has 46 pieces of survival tools, such as an emergency blanket, matches, and first aid supplies, that fit into one waterproof pouch. Our Preparedness Crate for Emergencies also contains this survival kit. Both are perfect for emergency evacuations.
Don’t be caught unaware. Prepare, friends.
Preparedness Advisor, My Patriot Supply