Evacuating your home 101 – How to adapt the plan for your family

Compact car that is overloaded with boxes and bags tied precariously on the rool.

This is not the recommended method of vehicle packing.

(If you jumped into this series on this post, you’ll want to head back to the beginning so it makes sense.  The first post in the series can be found here, then follow the links for the rest of the series.)

The beauty of this evacuation plan is in its flexibility.  Anyone can, and all should, follow a plan to get ready to evacuate their homes.

I’ll suggest an order to prepare your boxes in but you are free to reorder the boxes as you see fit.  Try to find a priority order that works for you and stick with it.  That will help avoid confusion under stress.

You’ll also get suggestions on size, weight, construction materials etc.  They are guidelines and you should use your own judgement and resources, despite the reasons given.  It’s the principles that matter.

Scale everything to your vehicle and other personal limitations.  Eliminate boxes that don’t apply to your situation.  Combine boxes if it makes sense.  Add boxes to the list if you have other needed items.  This is meant to be comprehensive but not overwhelming.  If it’s too much to tackle, scale it back to a place you can handle.  In a given crisis, priorities may change.  If it looks like you won’t need a given ‘box’, skip over it.  A flash flood does not invoke the preparations for war, for example, and a chlorine chemical spill doesn’t require you to load up your rare coin collection.  That is another reason for the numerical ‘boxes’  If it is ready to go then you have an option.

By solving in advance the problems of prioritizing, packaging and loading, the decision to ‘grab or not to grab” is quick and painless.  It would be a rare and truly major disaster where you would actually take ALL the boxes.

Other considerations

Communicating with, and rounding up all the family members, will be a major aspect of most families ‘ evacuation effort and emphasis….after all, the most important things aren’t really things, they are people.  You have to solve that communication problem, but that is left for another post. ..except to say that one of many scenarios is that dad is at work, mom is at home and she has to load the car and get moving without his help.  You should discuss how you will go ahead under such a scenario.  The intent of this plan is that by following it, the best that could be done, will be done.

To a certain extent, what you evacuate with, will be determined by where you are going.  If  you are herded to a shelter, be advised that any weapons or pets won’t get to come so leave them home.  Or make other arrangements. We’ll address pets in another post because they will need to be provided for.

You’d do well to have a written and posted checklist of other things that must be done when evacuating, such as turning off utilities, locking doors and windows, securing various things, leaving notes, contacting your out-of state contact etc. Those things are very important, but also ancillary to this topic, so they will be addressed in another post.

In a major crisis, the character of people seems to magnify.  Some turn from regular good folks into heroes, others, seeing any opportunity, will take whatever they can get from whomever they can get it from…and those who were visibly villainous before will get more brazen.  If a box is easy for you to remove from the house, it will be easy for a burglar to take.  So you might want to give some thought to ways that you could slow down a bad guy without hindering your own purpose.  A toolbox ready to evacuate kept inside a large locking cabinet, would be an example of this.  There are some strategies for avoiding crime that you’ll need to observe, such as not leaving a loaded evacuation vehicle unattended, even for a second, even in your own driveway.

Take note of the ‘gas law of packing for a trip’; items expand to fill the space available.  Try to divide the space fairly, and scale down when needed.

If you are in a time of uncertainty where you might or might not need to evacuate, use that time well to stage the evacuation boxes near the front door and review your plan.

Now on to the plan:  the Actual Boxes

What do you think?