The whole idea of being forced out of Dodge doesn’t seem to sit well with people, does it? We all know stories of residents down in the Keys or entire neighborhoods on Galveston who took it in their minds to stay put during some pretty insane hurricanes. It’s undoubtedly ballerish, I grant you that, but it takes a certain kind of hard-headedness that can’t possibly come cheap.
You might think we could skip the whole subject here in the temperate wonderland of San Diego – we don’t get the kind of Weather You Assign Names To. But then you’d be forgetting Santa Fricken Ana, our own resident harpy, who never seems to go a season without dishing out fiery knuckle sandwiches to a pretty wide audience. And there’s no real option of waiting her out with a bucket and copy of Byron when she blows in.
But still, type evacuation into Google and the top two suggestions for autocomplete are of Dunkirk and of Saigon. If we mind our history, then we’re left with this lesson: leave only when forced, and make it a disorganized act of panicked desperation mixed with jaw-dropping bravado. Bonus, if the success of which can only be sourced to an interruption in the laws of nature.
I’m declaring total bullshit. Using the sense God gave you to get yourself and your family out of an impending kill-zone is about as valorous as you can get, short of a Gandalf-like “You shall not pass!” blocking maneuver (that actually works). An ahead-of-time PLAN for such an event is nothing short of an instrument of badassitude.
- you won’t get much notice
- you won’t be thinking as straight as you are right now
- the actions you take – or leave undone – can have profound implications on your safety and future comfort
You know, no biggie.
Let’s offload some of that future angst — shall we? — on the relative calm of the present moment. That’s what a Disaster Evac Plan is all about.
Here are the keys to your Great Escape:
1. Have your shit together.
Seriously, this is about 75% of the plan right here. Have the stuff you need ready to grab and go. At the very least have most of the items together in a stash (a Rubbermaid bin) with a list of the other stuff & their probable locations taped to the top. So, in the bin: warm clothes, paper maps, water, duplicate charging cables, flashlights, etc. On the list: your glasses, your meds, your laptop, pet food, those docs from the safe, etc. Make the list now when your thoughts are your own, you will be grateful for the guidance when shit gets real.
2. Leaving early = less stress
Pay attention during fire season or during severe weather watches, and consider leaving early or pre-staging stuff — gear, pets, children! — out of the likely impact area, especially if you work in a location not close to home. No points are awarded for being the last to leave, or for spending hours upon hours in bumper traffic along the evac route.
3. Know where you’re going…
A hotel, friends or relatives, an evacuation shelter…have several options in mind. If you need pet-friendly hotels, print off the results of a Google map search along your probable evac route and keep that with your stash.
4 ..and how to get there.
Sometimes evac routes will be determined by Emergency Responders, based on current safety and impact (such as wildfire evacuations). Other times (if your home is red-tagged after an earthquake), you have more flexibility, especially once you leave the impacted area. Invest in some paper maps (remember those?) and a highlighter pen. I am all for smart-phones and Google Maps, but in the heat of the moment, cell-towers might be overwhelmed with folks trying the same thing.
There it is. This isn’t Genius Bar stuff. If you have the gear, the destination, and the determination to get there, I think the rest just about sorts itself out, no?
Want to learn more about evacuations and what should be in your evac stash? Stay tuned..
Over to you… Do you have an exit strategy? What’s in your stash?