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Planning An Evacuation

December 17, 2012 by  

Planning An Evacuation
UPI
Commuters walk across the Brooklyn Bridge avoiding shuttle busses and limited mass transit options 3 days after Hurricane Sandy hit New York City.

There have been many natural disasters in recent history that have required people to leave their homes in order to preserve life and safety. Most recently, the East Coast was forced to deal with Super Storm Sandy.

In this case, about two days’ notice was all that residents had to evacuate the areas that would be affected by the storm. Those that chose to adhere to the evacuation order were certainly inconvenienced but survived to talk about it. In past times of disaster, those who ignored orders to evacuate from disaster areas have lost their lives or at best have been stranded for long periods of time.

So What Makes An Evacuation Successful?

It is safe to say that in most cases, an early evacuation is a successful evacuation. Those who wait until the last minute to leave will likely end up on the gridlocked Interstates and some may become one of the unfortunate evacuees who run out of fuel and have to abandon their vehicles in the middle of the highway system.

The key to a successful evacuation is not only leaving early but having a plan to evacuate. Here are some considerations for planning a successful evacuation:

Know Where To Go

Evacuating will remove people from immediate danger but it does not give evacuees a place to stay. In most cases there will be shelters that are set up by relief organizations, and there are always hotels and motels that are available. But shelters are not ideal, and other lodging options fill quickly and are also being expensive.With that being said, the best option is to coordinate with family members or close friends to stay with them at least until longer term arrangements can be made. Staying with friends and family also typically removes limits on whether you can take family pets with you. Shelters and other lodging facilities don’t always give that option.

How Will You Get There?

Method of Evacuation: Most individuals or families will elect to take the most reliable vehicle available to them, others will take more than one vehicle, and some do not have a vehicle to evacuate in and will be forced to rely on others or the government in order to leave the area. Key points to consider when selecting the vehicle that you will use to evacuate is the weather you will be driving in, terrain you will be driving on, capacity of the vehicle, and the availability of fuel and parts for the vehicle as you are evacuating. If you do not have a vehicle and do not want to be left hitchhiking, consider talking to close friends or family in your local area now who have cars about what might happen if there ever was an evacuation order. Find out if one of them will plan to pick you up on the way out.

Routes of Evacuation: Plan more than one evacuation route to your destination. Ideally, there will be a route that will lead out-of-town or away from home and work in each direction: north, east, south and west. This will allow for evacuation regardless of whether one direction is blocked or not. When planning routes, avoiding large cities and metropolitan areas can be a sound decision to avoid danger, areas of congestion and unnecessary delays. One of the best technologies that is available that can be utilized to assist in planning evacuation routes are the online map websites that allow users to get directions from one place to another. An added bonus to planning your routes this way is that once they are planned, they can be printed and placed in a binder with other pertinent information, kept in vehicle glove boxes, or even shared with other family or survival group members through online file sharing. Global positioning systems are great for navigating as you travel, but it can be valuable to have paper maps or an atlas that covers all of the states and major population centers that you may travel through as a backup.

Stops Along the Way: It is likely that if you find yourself in a position where you are evacuating your home that you are probably not going to a destination right down the street. Furthermore, if your idea of a good time is not staying in a high school gym with a bunch of strangers, the destination you will evacuate to is likely to be a close friend or family member, so it may become necessary to make a few stops along the way. These stops may include arranging overnight accommodations. Plan stops for fuel, food, lodging, etc. as needed along your planned routes. To ensure that your planned stops are likely to be open and operating, look at truck stops and places other than one light towns.

What to Take

Cash: In the event of an emergency or disaster situation there may be electrical outages or technology failures that will result in businesses not accepting credit and debit cards. If this becomes the case, cash will be king. Planning to have cash on hand when evacuating will provide for purchasing necessities. It is also possible that banks will be closed and ATMs could be inoperable or out of cash.

B.O.B.: For those not familiar with the acronym, B.O.B. stands for Bug-Out Bag, which can be pretty much any bag that contains the life support items and necessities to survive for a certain period of time (usually 72 hours). The idea behind a B.O.B. is to have a bag on standby either in the house or in the car that can be grabbed at a moment’s notice and taken along. This is a perfect item to take in an evacuation to ensure that you are not without the bare necessities for survival. While there are no laws governing the B.O.B., typically each individual will have his own bag. A backpack is the most effective bag to use for carrying a B.O.B. for any period of time.

A B.O.B. should include:

  • A light source (at least a flashlight with an extra set of batteries).
  • Water for drinking (and a method to purify more water is recommended).
  • Food (jerky, granola bars, tuna, or other long-life foods that do not require refrigeration and ideally would not require any preparation).
  • Shelter (poncho, tarp, plastic sheeting, or survival blanket).
  • Fire/Warmth (fire starters, hand warmers and/or waterproof matches)
  • Clothing (Whatever suits you, no pun intended. For example, if you keep your bag in your car and wear dress shoes daily you would want to keep some hiking boots or athletic shoes in your B.O.B.).
  • Self defense/security (pepper spray or whatever is legal in your local area).
  • ·First aid kit.
  • Personal hygiene items (toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, feminine products, etc.).
  • Tools (At a minimum a good knife, but a multi-tool can be valuable because of the additional features it offers. Other tools that some include in their bags include a hatchet, small pry bar, Woodsman’s Pal or machete.)
  • Communications (extra cell phone, CB radio, or family band radios to communicate between vehicles during an evacuation.)

Treated Fuel: If you have to leave, don’t get stuck on the side of the road in a vehicle that has run out of gas. A reasonable guideline is to carry enough stabilized fuel with you during an evacuation to travel an additional 100 miles.

Spare Vehicle Parts and Tools: Extra parts seem to always be needed at the worst of times. It is not going to be possible to carry an entire automotive shop everywhere you go, but a few key items can make a significant difference. Some important spare parts that should be kept in a vehicle include an extra set of belts and hoses, spare fuses, a can of fix-a-flat, various hose clamps, electrical tape, spare light bulbs and extra fluids. A basic mechanics tool set can be obtained inexpensively and will contain most of the tools needed to make side of the road repairs in an emergency. Must have items are jumper cables, lug wrench, tire jack, and either road flares or a warning triangle.

What Will Be Needed at Evacuation Location: Some of the important items that may be needed once you arrive at the location that you have evacuated to include:

  • Medical Records/Shot Records
  • Driver’s license
  • Social Security card
  • School records
  • Prescription medications (copies of prescriptions)
  • Glasses (copy of prescription)
  • Medical equipment
  • Comfort Items (especially important for children)
  • Insurance documents
  • Bank account information

Dealing With Extended Evacuation

The victims of Hurricane Katrina were displaced for extended periods of time and some never returned to New Orleans. Part of evacuating will require staring down the barrel of the cold hard truth and knowing that a new life may have to be established somewhere else, at least for a temporary, yet extended, period of time. This will mean obtaining long term housing, securing employment, finding schools for the kids, etc. Long term disruption is not a guarantee with every evacuation, but being prepared for this possibility can make a significant difference for a person that ends up in that situation.

For instance, an evacuee that has filed a resume in Google Docs so that it can be accessed from anywhere is better prepared to apply for a new job in a different part of the country than a person that is displaced and has to create a new resume from scratch.

In an ideal world there would never be a need to involuntarily leave home. The fact of the matter is that as long as natural disasters, catastrophic failures in technological systems, societal collapse, pandemics, economic disaster, terrorism or acts of war threaten society, so it may be necessary to evacuate your home and relocate to another location. If this happens, having a plan in place results in a proactive approach instead of a reactive evacuation where key items may be missed. Trying to gather all the necessities at the last minute may put you, your loved ones and/or friends in a difficult situation.

-Thomas Miller

Thomas Miller

lives with his wife and three sons in the Northeastern quadrant of the United States. He has completed countless hours of advanced training in both clinical and trauma medicine and is a Nationally Registered Emergency Medical Technician. Tom has also completed several courses in disaster and emergency planning/management as well as hazardous materials handler and transport certification. He graduated with honors from American Military University with an Associate of Arts in Real Estate Studies. Tom is a U.S. Army combat veteran who served with honor as a combat medic on his multiple overseas tours during the Global War on Terror. During his time in the Army, Tom became an expert in the use of several weapons (including long guns, sidearms and improvised weaponry) and obtained competence with many other weapon systems, including foreign firearms. The Army also afforded Tom the opportunity to become proficienct in the driving and operation of several different vehicles from Humvees to heavy trucks and tracked vehicles. If there happens to be any free time available, Tom can be found sharing his passion for fishing with his sons, working on a project in the wood shop, tending to the garden or trying to maintain some resemblance of physical fitness. Tom's other writings can be viewed on his blog, The Prepared Ninja, at www.thepreparedninja.com. If you are on Twitter, Tom can be followed on the handle @preparedninja.

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  • eddie47d

    That is one of the biggest problems trying to keep enough cash on hand. You don’t want too much laying around the house for obvious reasons (who does anyway) yet it is such an important item. We try to keep one of our vehicles full at all times and if you do hear of a weather event coming head to the gas station before not after it happens. Great article Thomas Miller.

    • http://www.facebook.com/benjamin.fox.98892 Benjamin Fox

      Cash will be worthless soon, everything will be done by computer, gold won’t save anyone or silver and if you don’t have the right chip in your hand, you don’t exist. Mark Gods Word.

    • CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON

      “eddie47d,”

      SIR, THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO RECEIVE Social Security benefits AND KEEP “CASH BOXES” IN THEIR HOMES SO Social Security Administration CAN NOT FIND A “PAPER-TRAIL” TO THEIR PRIMARY MONEY SOURCE. PEOPLE DO NOT WANT THEIR BENEFIT AMOUNT TO DECREASE DUE TO HAVING LARGE MONETARY ASSETS.

      SO-CALLED “POOR PEOPLE” CONSIDER IT TO BE A “SIGN OF LOVE” TO BE ABLE TO LEAVE MONEY FOR THEIR CHILDREN.

  • ibcamn

    hey anybody out there,guess what?not one single city(large)has a functional evac system that works!small town USA has a better chance but the plans are never followed,not saying they work because they never have.TOO MANY variables too equate.so gov’t just gives it it’s best shot and takes the losses with a teaspoon of sugar,and that is 100% true!

  • Walter & Renee Agard

    The world is coming to an end: Disasters, wars terrorists and so on no one can stop that, Check the Bible and correspond it with what is happening today-Revelation.

    • CHRISTOPHER ALLEN HORTON

      “Walter & Renee Agard,”

      THE Book of Revelation DISCUSSES THE “Sign of the Beast.” “The Agards,” HOW BAD WOULD THE “BEAST” HAVE TO BE IN ORDER TO BE CONSIDERED LIFE-THREATENING?

      MANY PEOPLE ON THIS SITE CONSIDER Osama bin Laden TO HAVE BEEN A “BEAST,” WHO KILLED HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE ON 11 SEPTEMBER 2001. MY POINT IS, MANY PEOPLE SEEM TO BE WAITING ON THIS “CATASTROPHIC BEAST” WHO WILL DESTROY EARTH. A CATASTROPHY IS A CATASTROPHY – TRYING TO PLACE A DEGREE-LEVEL ON IT IS SILLY.

  • http://att Barbara Stankowski

    My dogs and I would just as soon leave this earth in a house where we’d be together, than get out on the road as a refugee and eventually end up with other refugee’s in a fema camp; and, no, I don’t think they’d allow dogs, or any other pets.

  • Hedgehog

    If you plan to evacuate in the event of a disaster plan ahead, years ahead. Buy an RV and keep it stocked, rotating your stock to keep it fresh. Use your RV frequently for weekends and holidays to become familiar with it. Visit various places in order to have a number of possible destination points depending on the type of disaster. Don’t give up on the idea of an RV because it’s too expensive. I have a 20 foot class C right now, cost me $3000.00 Canadian, all the comforts of home except the bathroom is a bit small.It’s dual fuel, gasoline and propane with a one way trip range of about 1000 miles. I am also modifying a van for stealth camping. The van will not be quite as well equipped, but suitable for one person. The Class C will hold 3 comfortably, 4 in a pinch, plus the ship’s cat. Older RV’s can be quite cheap, I have my eye on a 37 foot deisel Coach right now, for $10.000.00. If I like it and can afford it, I’ll sell the house and live in it.Then I’ll be permanently evacuated. Don’t like the neighbors, move, Don’t like the weather, move. Don’t like the government, move.. It’ll require a lot of adaptation on our part, but we’ll do OK!

  • FreedomFighter

    Warning Sign? Info from the watchers…

    Many of the top elites of New York city are fleeing from the city at this very moment and heading to there bunkers,,,err homes in Boulder and other western areas…

    Is this a sign of a possible new years event in the New York city or east coast area?

    Laus Deo
    Semper Fi

  • boyscout

    Buy a property or build under sea level and guess what, guess what! Reemove the dunes from the coast and build on your scenic beach front and guess what, guess what. Is it really rocket surgery? If your stuck in one of these situations, get out now and show the forces of nature a little respect.

  • Great Grey

    You had a few days to prepare for Sandy, before the evacuation order and should have been getting ready to leave as soon as it became clear that you needed to leave. A lot more lead time than a tornado or flash flood gives. If your boss wants to fire you for leaving early then maybe you shouldn’t be working for him/her as they don’t value your being safe and able to work after the disaster.

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