Evacuation: Grab-And-Go Kits
and other Plans
Modified 09/2022 by Paul Smith, K5PRS
What If You Had To Evacuate Your Home In A Hurry? What would you take? Why your Evacuation Grab-and-Go Kits and your radio go-kit of course!
Many of us have assembled go-kits for our radio equipment and other items we would use to serve others in an emergency situation but how many of us have put together a list of items we would take if we had to evacuate our home or apartment? Particularly if it were possible our home or apartment may not survive the disaster from which we are being evacuated? Are you sure you’d have everything you need to survive? Many of you have likely put together a to-do list in case of a hurricane but what about those who do not plan or do not need to either hunker down or evacuate for a hurricane? What if, instead, there was a disaster such as a fire, hazardous chemical release, nuclear disaster, fire, etc. that required you to evacuate in a hurry? If you only had 5 minutes, 30 minutes or even an hour to evacuate, what would you take? How do you prepare a list of those items and prepare to gather them, pack them and put them in your vehicle in a short period of time? Well, start with a list and a plan… and PRACTICE!
Think about the following four questions when preparing your lists:
- What would you need to start over if everything was destroyed?
- What would you need to survive a few days or a week if you had no money and credit systems were down?
- What is important to you?
- What can you gather, pack and fit in your evacuation vehicle in a short period of time?
Five minutes! Is your evacuation vehicle in good shape and full of fuel? You won’t get out in time if it isn’t. They say half a tank…I say top it off frequently. It costs nothing more than a bit of time.
If you are like me, your list will be random at first and ideas will continue to pop into your head for days. Get you family together and brain storm. Just write down what comes to mind. Involve your children, they may think of things you don’t and they will come up with things that are essential to them (particularly if they are young) which you may leave off the list but you’ll need to help them understand why.
Later on you will organize and prioritize the list into several lists. You want to end up with an essentials (mission critical, life or death) list, an important list and a nice-to-have list.
How much time do I have?
That’s a critical question. If a wind driven fire will torch your home in five to ten minutes, you’re in a critical situation and every action you take or don’t take could be life threatening. If a cat-5 hurricane will arrive tomorrow night, you’ve got time to think.
I recommend breaking the list into four groups: 5min, 30min, 1-2hrs and 12+ hrs evacuation. That implies four lists though you might want to combine the middle two to 30 mins to 2 hrs with the 30 minute items toward the top and the 2 hour items toward the bottom. So what might you pack for each?
5 minutes to hell:
- All family members
- One or more personal protection devices
- All the cash, silver and gold you’ve got in the house
- One or two children’s valuables – pre-selected, they can gather with an escort.
- Driving glasses
- Cell Phones (keep a charger for each phone type in the evacuation vehicle)
- Vehicle/house keys
- All pets (in carriers if possible)
- 24 hour Bug-out-bags
- Radio go-kit.
GO, GO, GO!
As you can see, only essential items go into the 5 min evacuation time list. Notice what’s on the bottom of that list? Stuff isn’t essential. The entire point is immediate survival.
- As you refine your list, items may move from one list to another but that five minute list shouldn’t change much. It will take longer than you think under that kind of pressure.
- An item should only appear on one list though additions like extra water, food, clothing, etc. can be listed if you can meet your time limit.
- As you finalize the list, indicate where each item is located. This is mission critical. You don’t have time to search for something. You will likely figure out ways to simplify your task by pre-packing, putting things together or, over time, putting items such as photos, birth certificates, passports, insurance policies and other documents, etc. on a CD disk, USB thumb drive, external hard drive.
- If possible have a copy of these documents stored in a location out of your geographical area, say with a relative or close friend – you could do a reciprocal system. This will save on what you have to pull together IF they are not located in the disaster zone.
- I highly recommend that you keep copies or scans of essential documents on a flash drive that is in a water proof container and is easy to grab.
- Determine what you can actually fit in your vehicle and refine your lists accordingly. This is a critical part of the task. How much room do the Essential items take up? Add the important stuff to the vehicle…any room left? Is your radio go-kit in there? Are your family member’s go-bags (backpacks) in there? Did you include your pets and their needs? Your kids’ toys or memorabilia? How it’s packed will make a difference, could you repeat that process?
- Post your lists on the back or your pantry door or on a wall in your kitchen. You may want to give a copy of the list to a neighbor so they could grab the essential items if you are not at home when the evacuation takes place (presuming they have room in their vehicle.
- Always plan the list with the input of family members. Helping a young child find space for a favorite toy could be the lesson that keeps him and his family alive someday.
- I repeat, if you haven’t actually packed that vehicle, you haven’t actually done the job.
Some example lists:
Evacuation time 5 Minutes – see above
30 minutes to two hours (in addition to the 5 minute list):
- WATER and more water. Space and weight; always a problem. Everybody’s go-bag should contain a survival water filter like the Sawyer Mini and a metal cup for cooking food and purifying water so a gallon per person and reliance on the filters might be your best bet.
- Food: (MREs, meal replacement bars, trail mix, GORP, fresh fruit, freeze dried meals)
- Rain Gear
- AC Cell Phone chargers
- Adequate clothing for the weather conditions including boots, hats, scarves, gloves.
- Prescription Medications
- Sunscreen/Insect repellent
- Extra contacts or glasses
- Medical devices (wheel chair, hearing aid, retainer, etc.)
- Laptop Computer or Tablet, charging cables, internet cable, media
- Important documents
- 72 Hour kits (bug-out-bags) with water/food/clothes/toiletries/
- Family photo CD’s/memorabilia
- Baby bag with extra food/formula
- Pet food, water & dish
- Pet leashes (need this to walk dogs or for shelters)
- Pet carriers & litter boxes/litter
- Sleeping bags, blankets, pillows, towels.
- Extra batteries
- More clothes
- Toys, activities to keep kids occupied
- Kids’ memory things
That’s a LONG list…organization and an accurate list with locations indicated and containers like plastic bins with lids at hand are critical. Note that much of that list can be pre-packed – thirty minutes isn’t much time.
Now you’ve got some time. Hook up the trailer if you’ve got one. Pretend (or actually) pack for a camping trip if you’ve got room. You might even consider an out-and-back trip of no more than three hours with a load if you have a pre-planned place to store your stuff but make sure your family has a functional vehicle to escape in if you have problems along the way.
Add things like:
- Fishing kits.
- Cooking kits
- Camp chairs
- Coleman stove and propane
- Battery powered TV/radio
- More batteries (go buy them!)
- Great-grandma’s rocking chair
We have seen and heard of disasters in the past due to poor planning which should make the usefulness of this guidance clear. You can do it…or not. What would you forget in that five minute scramble if you couldn’t get a replacement? I am sure many wished they had put together such a plan so Be Prepared.
That concludes tonight’s training. Are there any questions, comments or suggested additions?
Thanks, this is (callsign) clear to net control.