No matter how much you may wish to stay at home, there are times when evacuation will be your only choice. These include a nuclear, chemical or biological event as well as any impending disaster that is likely to destroy your home. An evacuation plan is an essential element of your Family Disaster Plan and should include where to go, how to get there and what to bring with you.
Where To Go
If the order to evacuate is given, you should do so immediately and carefully follow the directions given by local authorities. If a local shelter has been established, you will be advised where to go. But if sitting on cots at the local high school gymnasium or National Guard Armory is not to your liking, and you are free to leave the area, a safe house or survival retreat in a location where the current crisis will not threaten you is a good alternative.
The easiest way to set up a safe house is to coordinate with a friend or family member located between 100 and 150 miles away, preferably in a different setting. [A vacation home, hunting lodge, or second residence can also serve as a safe house if you are fortunate to have one.] For example:
Following these guidelines, you can be relatively sure of several things:
- If you're in the inner city, they should be in a rural area or at least a smaller town, preferably not the suburbs of your city.
- If you're near the coast, they should be inland.
- If you're near a flood plain, the safe house should be on higher ground.
- Whatever disaster you are facing should not affect them, and vice versa. This allows you to trade off, so when they are facing a survival situation, your home can be their safe house.
- You'll be running towards something, not just away from danger.
- You can get there on one tank of gas, even if there is a great deal of traffic.
- You won't be turned away at the inn (Hotel rooms are quickly filled, and often at inflated prices).
How to Get There
Whichever option you've chosen for your safe house, the best way to get there is by car. It's convenient (most of us have them), offers some protection, is relatively fast and allows us to carry much more gear than on foot or bicycle.
And the old adage about never letting your car's gas tank get below half makes a lot of sense. We also recommend keeping a couple of five gallon tanks of gas on hand "for emergencies." But remember to store these properly in a safe location outside your house or garage. You can use these to top off your tank or carry with you (strapped to the roof, perhaps) when given the order to evacuate.
And while we're on the subject of cars, make sure yours is in good mechanical condition.
One of the most critical factors in an evacuation plan is route planning. You should have memorized several routes to your safe house or survival retreat and have maps on hand so you can identify alternate routes around accidents or other problem areas. The routes should include:
- The fastest, most direct route. This will be your first choice when you are getting out early, before the crowds.
- A back road route. This may be your best bet when the interstates are clogged with lines of cars all trying to leave "ground zero."
- An indirect route. There may be a time when you need to get away, but don't want anyone to know where you're going. There may come a day when it make sense to go north 200 miles out of your way to end up 150 miles east of your destination. This is also the route to choose if you have reason to believe you may be followed.
What to Bring with You
A bug-out bag is the first -- and possibly only -- thing you grab when you're evacuating. When the fire alarm is going off, for example, grab the kids, the bug-out bags and get out. Each member of the family should have his or her own Bug-Out-Bag.
Click here to find out what should be included in a Bug-Out-Bag.
Depending on the nature of the crisis at hand, if you have the time and room in your vehicle, you may also want to grab your 72 hour emergency food container, a tent, sleeping bags, and other camping or survival equipment you may have on hand. Most of these items should already be stored in an easily accessible location outside your home in the event there is a major earthquake.