Emergency Evacuation; Do’s and Don’ts

Ever wonder why the terms ‘emergency’ andevacuate‘  seem to be in the same sentence so often?  They both are words that imply something that is happening right now, quickly and also something that is life threatening or at least dangerous.

Evacuation is a word with loads of  less-than-happy connotations.  To evacuate is another way to say you’re being forced to leave your “comfort zone” i.e., home, office, any place you feel comfortable or secure, as fast as possible.  Or you need to find a bathroom, very fast to avoid embarrassment.

It brings to mind bedraggled, wounded, starving refugees on the road or in temporary camps designed for less than half of the evacuees that showed up.

Forced evacuation also forces many  life/perspective changing decisions into focus;refugees

  • Whether to take your golf clubs or your wife’s collection of Harlequin Romance novels?
  • Food or water, food or water, maybe just the Jack Daniels?
  • Weapons and ammunition are a no-brainer, but is the 20mm anti-aircraft ordnance a little too much?
  • Food for the whining, barking, ankle biting, ridiculous-excuse-for-a-dog, Yorkie-Poo that your mother-in-law gave the family for protection, or an extra bullet to put it out of your misery?
  • The Honda or your monster truck (you can’t be serious?)

monster truck

These and other important decisions will change your life and the lives of your loved ones in the mad rush to evacuate.  Finding safety may not be very easy and in the case of a widespread disaster like the eruption of the super volcano under Yellowstone National Park, may prove to be possible only for those who have prepared.

Think about it, how well did FEMA handle Hurricane Katrina?  That was the government’s response to the biggest natural disaster in America in a century.  People are still waiting for help,,,of course many people made a lot of money off of all the suffering and deprivation, so the government felt they had done their part.

In all seriousness, if a disaster big enough to affect the infrastructure of transportation, i.e., highways and railroads, takes place, the government won’t be able to do anything anyway.

powergridIf the power grid goes down due to a solar hiccup or terrorist activity, America is screwed, blued and tattooed.  Technology holds our society together and without energy (power grid) people will be starving and probably rioting in one week, guaranteed.

How many people do you know that have stockpiles of food, water and commodities (gas, diesel, firewood, toilet paper, etc.)?  Ha!  You probably know no one who has stockpiled the necessities because they won’t be telling everybody that they have enough Oreo’s to last a year.

Okay, back to evacuation.  Not that you would want to take a year’s worth of Oreo’s with you as you escape the calamity(?), okay, even if you did, there is one thing that is the most important item that many people never think of,,,a plan.

Yes, a plan.  A working idea of where to go, what to take, how to hook up with your friends and family, what to do with your dog who gets car sick.  Without a plan and a little preparation for leaving your home, office, favorite bar or whatever, you will be in the middle of the thirsty, hungry, angry hoard of other unprepared people looking for safety.

You don’t want that!

What you do want is to be able to calmly walk around the house, shut windows and doors, turn off the gas, turn off the electric, gather everyone in a staging area and remind them of the PLAN for evacuation. This is also an excellent opportunity to chuck your wife’s ridiculous little constantly-barking Yorkie-Poo in the trash compactor, when no one is looking.

Make absolutely certain everyone knows what to do and impress on them that since YOU took the time to arrange everything, YOU are the boss.  Unless of course you’re married and on the best whipped list, then SHE is the boss.  Someone has to be the boss, the leader, the authority or nothing will get done.

There is no place for Democracy when fleeing to save your life.  (Note: this is an original quote by yours truly, you may use it in the proper context or at the next drunken office party)

Is that all there is to evacuating a major disaster?  By no means is a plan enough, but it is a start.  Along with your plan, think about food and water to last at least 3 days, or if you opted for the Jack Daniels, you’ll need the appropriate bar snacks.

bar snacks

In any case, if you are able to drive out it will be possible to take food and water and the Jack Daniels as well as enough cough syrup to keep the kids happy.

Durable clothing and sturdy shoes or hiking boots might be necessary if you want to be reasonably comfortable.  Forced evacuations are not the event for flip-flops and evening gowns.

The highway system might be clogged with stalled vehicles, forcing you to walk out or you might run out of gas because your son used the rig last night for a “hot date.”  If this is the case, we all know who gets to carry the heaviest pack, don’t we?

Whatever happens, it is wise to be prepared to hike to safety.  Have back packs or duffel bags prepared ahead of time and waiting in an easy-to-get-to location that you and your family can grab on the way out the door.

Backpacks or rucksacks are preferable in order to keep your hands free for climbing, holding a flashlight, holding a weapon or holding your bottle of Jack Daniels.

The only thing qualifying what you put in your pack is weight.  Make every item something that has multiple functions and be absolutely certain it is life-or-death important to include that item.  A first aid kit and matches or a lighter and roach clips are very important, so is a good knife(s), maybe a multi-tool.

Sleeping bags, tarps, ground cloths and cooking utensils are top priority items.  Something to store water in and a water filter or purification tablets may be a life-saver.  Maps, a compass, a GPS if you have one, your cellphone and a solar charger can be crucial for knowing where you are and keeping up-to-date on FaceBook.toilet paper

There are myriad other things to include (don’t forget toilet paper, your wife might be able to live without her ridiculous dog, but forget the TP and you’ll be singing soprano) just take the time NOW to make your emergency evacuation preparations.  You might not get a chance tomorrow.

5 thoughts on “Emergency Evacuation; Do’s and Don’ts

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