Monday, June 11, 2012

Evacuation — When It's Time To Run

Over the past couple of days, hundreds of residents have been forced out of their homes as they flee wildfires in Colorado and New Mexico. If history repeats itself, the same will probably happen again this year in southern California, as the wildfire season matures. The scene of people scrambling to get out of the path of disaster might be duplicated in the southeast and along the eastern seaboard, if the hurricane season becomes unruly. And it could take place across the midwest as tornados tear thing up.

There is hardly any place in the country where raging weather or geologic or manmade disasters can't turn  our lives upside-down. Sometimes it's possible to hunker down and do the best you can where you are. But sometimes the best course of action is to get out of the area. That raises the subject of evacuation, and how to safely get away from a disaster site.

There are five primary factors when considering evacuation:
  • How to prepare your home before you go
  • When to leave
  • Where to go
  • How to get there
  • What to take with you
In some cases, you won't have a chance to do anything to prepare your home. If the crisis is at your door, you might have to just scramble to save your life, leaving all your worldly goods to fend for themselves. But if you do have time, work from a personal priority list of what you want to make sure is safe — perhaps family photos, journals, heirlooms and such. If the problem is a flood, move these items to the highest point in your home (maybe the attic). Everything else can be replaced, so focus on getting yourself out alive.

It's best to evacuate ahead of the official order for evacuation, so you can get out of the area ahead of the crowd. Listen to radio and TV reports about the advancing crisis, then make your decision early about leaving. If you get out of the area early, you can probably choose your route. If you wait too long, the highways might be clogged with traffic, making evacuation impossible or at least much more difficult.

Plan ahead to have alternative destinations in the event of an evacuation. Talk with distant friends and relatives who might take you into their home if you have to leave your own. Locate the official shelter sites in your community, so you will know how to get to them when the time comes.

Have alternative methods of transportation. If the roads are blocked, underwater, or broken up, you might not be able to use a car or truck. A motorcycle or bicycle will go places a 4-wheel vehicle cannot go. It might come down to walking, so have good walking shoes that will protect your feet from sharp or hot objects, and allow you to hike for several miles in comfort.

Prepare an evacuation bag that contains basic personal items. You don't want to end up in a community shelter and have to borrow somebody else's toothbrush. Take season-appropriate clothing, a water filter, some energy bars, basic toiletries, prescription medications, a change of underwear and socks, a flashlight, fire starter, emergency blanket — stuff like that will go a long way toward making your life as an exile more bearable.

1 comment:

  1. Hook up to 5th wheel, take off. Been through fires before, in the end all you need is your life to start over again, you had too much crap in the first place.