Thursday, June 5, 2014

Five Critical Questions

Evacuation Route SignA disaster is looming!

Maybe it's a wildfire that threatens your region, a hurricane, an earthquake, tsunami, pandemic, flood, or perhaps a chemical/biological/nuclear attack. Whatever it is, it's got you thinking seriously about evacuation to a safer area.

But before you decide to evacuate, there are five critical questions that you need to ask yourself. And unless you can come up with the right answers, now's the time to start getting more prepared.

You'll notice that each major question contains sub-questions that are directly related. If you use these questions as prompts, they can help you make your disaster preparedness plans ahead of time, including the issue of potential evacuation.  
1. Why? — Why do you feel the need to evacuate? What makes you think that is the best course of action, given the circumstances? You realize that if you leave your home behind, you also leave behind all of your supplies (except those few things you can carry with you as you flee), and leave yourself exposed to all the unknowns that lie ahead. Are you really ready to do that? Of course, if the threatened disaster is serious enough, maybe you have no choice but the evacuate. If your home has been destroyed (or is in imminent danger of destruction), this whole question answers itself. At that point, I hope you can answer the next few questions correctly.
2. Where? — Where are you going to go? Do you have arrangements made with a friend or relative who lives outside the evacuation zone where you can go and be safe? Have you already prepared a "go-to" spot outside your region that you intend to use for vacations or for just such an event as this? Or are you planning to just wander until you run out of gas or, hopefully, find someplace that looks good? Are you going to throw your fate into the hands of the federal government to come and save you? Are you willing to live in a FEMA camp?
3. How? — How are you going to get there? What will you use for transportation, and what route are you going to take? Do you have alternative routes in mind, in case Plan A is a no-go? Do you have enough fuel to reach your intended destination? Do you have alternate transportation modes, in case the roads are so broken up that you can't drive a regular vehicle? Would you be able to go on foot, and do you know the best paths that can lead you out of the area in any of several different directions?
4. What? — What are you going to take with you? Do you have a "grab and go" kit already packed and ready to sling over your shoulder? Do you have one for every member of your family? Or are you just hoping to share someone else's toothbrush wherever you happen to land? Assuming that you have a bugout bag, when was the last time you went through it to check expiration dates and the general condition of supplies? 

5. And then what? — What is your post-evacuation plan? How will you survive the long-term aftermath of a major disaster if you make the decision to leave everything behind and evacuate to another region?

If you work toward having good answers to all these questions, you'll be more prepared to make what might be a life-or-death decision when a disaster looms.