As you have by now heard, Hurricane Matthews wrecked Hati and Cuba and is now causing havoc in Florida and the rest of the south-eastern United States. I hope you don’t have the misfortune of being caught in its crosshairs, but if you do then you might find it prudent to evacuate you and your family. Knowing how and when to evacuate is something that everyone, everywhere, should be aware of and have a plan for. After all, as a conservative, it’s always important to be prepared.
For starters, evacuations are far more common than people realize and no matter where you live, you should know how and when to leave. The most common evacuation scenarios in the United States are fires and floods, but they are not the only ones. Making the decision to flee can be tough and sometimes it’s even the right decision to stay.
In this article, I will cover the leaving part of the conversation and discuss what to do when you decide to stay next week.
When To Leave
Mandatory evacuations are the easiest decision to make as your local or state governments have already made the tough decision for you. However, by the time these orders are given, it is usually too late to get very far. Lots of times you will find that the freeways are already congested and it can take upwards of 24 hours to get even a few hundred miles away.
Now, if you feel that evacuating is a waste of time, or especially if you feel that it would put your family at greater risk, then you should choose to stay. But, be warned that there will be consequences for remaining behind during a mandatory evacuation. However, it’s all based on the state laws, so for starters, you should know what your’s are. It can range from the police being able to forcibly remove you and issuing you a large fine, to misdemeanor charges, to simply nothing. Ultimately you should do what you feel is best for your home and family regardless of the law.
Voluntary evacuations are usually when there is a clear threat of danger, but it either is not expected to cause loss of life or you live far enough away from the disaster to have time to get away.
Now, just because it’s voluntary, doesn’t mean you should be less prepared. Whatever you decide on doing, do it quick. If you leave, the freeways might still be heavily congested from others leaving (possibly from areas with mandatory evacuations) and you may still have to sit for quite a while to get anywhere. On the other hand, if you stay, grocery stores might already be empty of essential supplies.
With all natural disasters in your area, follow their path and see how much danger your family and your house is in when making the appropriate choice. If your house is likely to take damage and lose power and water then you would do better putting your family in a safer place, but if the risk is low, you might put your house and property in danger by fleeing and leaving it open to potential looters. Looters will always be a risk, but property is never worth the lives of your family, so choose wisely.
Preparing To Evacuate
Planning for an evacuation ahead of time can be the difference between life and death, or at the very least, the difference between comfort and discomfort. After all, no one wants to be spending the night in a crowded emergency shelter or on the side of the road.
Plan where you will go when you evacuate. This one is the most important. If you wait until the last minute to plan where you are going, then you risk making a poor decision from panic or being unable to find a suitable alternative if your path is blocked. Have multiple locations planned, that way you never risk being cut off from a route and being stranded. Bonus points if it is on a lesser traveled road or away from a neighboring major city. If you can, choose the road less traveled.
Always Be Prepared To Go
If you live in an area that frequently gets evacuations, then make sure you have the ability to leave at the drop of a hat. Keep your vehicle’s gas tank topped off (at least half a tank at all times). The last thing you want to do is be waiting hours in line a block from your house to be price gouged on gas.
Have water and emergency rations ready to go. Preferably in a bag that can be grabbed and thrown into you vehicle quickly. A good rule of thumb is to have 72 hours worth of food and water for everyone in your car. No one wants to be stuck on the side of the road for days, but unfortunately it happens, be prepared. However, even if it’s just a few water bottles and boxes of cracker jacks, anything is better than nothing.
See the link below for more tips on packing your survival bag.
Safeguarding Your Home
Finally, one last thing remains before you can hit the open road, your house. If you are lucky enough to have time to prepare before evacuating, then you should take steps to protect your house. This will depend on the type of disaster heading your way. For example, if it’s a hurricane then you will want to board up your doors and windows, but if it’s a fire, then you will need to try and clear your property line of brush and flammable material. Know what your region is vulnerable too and have a plan for it.
There is a wealth of preparedness planning that can be found online for any disaster that might hit. The important part is speed, know what you are going to do and act quickly.
If you can, try and find someone you trust who isn’t leaving. This won’t always be possible, but if it is then it will give you peace of mind by having them check on your house while you are gone. This frees up your focus to concentrate on the evacuations.
Make A Checklist
It may also serve you to make a checklist for everything you need to bring and everything you need to do before you evacuate. This will help you fight any panic you may feel in the moments before you leave and help to ensure that you forget nothing. It will also aid you in delegating out assignments to members of your family (just make sure to verify that they have been completed properly).
There is no such thing as being too prepared and there is no cost that can be placed on peace of mind.
Choosing to evacuate is rarely an easy choice and it is never a fun one. However, if you must go, then you should make sure that you commit to it fully, once the decision is made stick to it, no second guessing yourself. Every single point that I discussed comes back to having a plan. This will give you the knowledge, confidence, and speed to successfully get out of harm’s way.
Hopefully, these tips will help you be prepared both mentally and physically for the hard task at hand.
Next week we will cover what to do if you decide to stay and shelter in place. In the meantime, if you want to learn more about surviving a hurricane then read these helpful articles from Survivallife.com