As much as I’m a “shelter in place” kinda guy, I do recognize the need to be able to evacuate your home should the need ever arise. There are many, many reasons for doing so, including natural disasters such as hurricanes, tsunamis, and wildfires to man-made ones such as a natural gas leak, and chemical spills. The question, then, is how to do so as effectively and efficiently as possible?
Well, to me it always starts with a plan. And plans often include lists; in this case a list of the items and gear you intend to take with… assuming, of course, that you’re bugging out by vehicle and not on foot. Anyway, your list doesn’t have to be anything fancy but it should be well thought out and readily accessible to all family members. I like to keep a “bug out” binder but you could just as easily post it on the refrigerator.
That said, I prefer to have my checklists broken down into multiple levels of needs, such as those items that are high, moderate, and low priority needs but you can and should do whatever makes the most sense to you. For example, I might say that my firearms and extra cash are a high priority need whereas extra blankets and my wife’s memorabilia are a low priority need. Got it?
In addition, I also like to develop my checklists around the time frame that I would expect to have to evacuate. For example, I might determine that I’ll only have 15 minutes or so to evacuate from a gas leak, one hour to evacuate an approaching wildfire, and perhaps a full day to evacuate a far-off hurricane. With this is mind I can then begin to determine precisely what items I can and will take with me given their perceived need/usefulness as well as the amount of time I have to gather them. To make my life easier, I actually created a PDf file to help me do just that called my “Priority Checklists” file. It happens to be one of many parts to my Pathway 2 Prepaerdness e-course, here’s an example screenshot (click to enlarge)…
Again, it doesn’t have to be this elaborate but I like the layout quite a bit and suspect you will too. Once you have all of your decisions made you should then consider the ultimate question: will it all fit? Chances are pretty good you’re going to need multiple vehicles to transport your gear along with family, pets, and who knows what else. So, I strongly encourage you to give it a test run and see not only how it all might fit (or not fit) but also how long it actually takes you… you might be highly disappointed in both answers but it’s critical to know so you can adjust and make more realistic plans.
The other major part of being able to evacuate effectively is to have an actual written out plan as to where you will go, how you will get there, what happens if family members are separated, and so on. This is actually A LOT of work. Before I actually tried to develop my own plans I always assumed that the few places I intended to be able to evacuate to would be ok and accessible. The more I thought about it, however, the more I realized that I could very well be forced to evacuate in directions and places that I really didn’t want to go. Hence, I had to develop a plan to evacuate in all directions (north, south, east, west) and to multiple places and distances. Yeah, it’s a lot of work but well worth the effort should I and my family ever need to fall back on these plans.
In fact, I went ahead and created another document titled “Evacuation Procedures” which is also a part of my e-course to help you develop your own evacuation plans. Here’s a few screenshots (click to enlarge)…
Really, it’s all about attempting to plan as best as you can before you ever need to evacuate. Granted, I know that plans aren’t always going to work out perfectly and there will be inevitably be snags, but I firmly believe that I would rather have to adjust my original plan(s) as I go than to have no plan at all. Feel free to learn more about these files and others as well as my 12-week Pathway 2 Prepaerdness e-course if you like.