Later today Brevard County, on the east coast of Florida, will begin mandatory evacuations of their barrier islands and other low lying areas. It is likely that in the hours ahead, several other coastal counties will follow suit.
Now is the time to figure out what you and your family will do if you are ordered to leave, or if you don't feel secure staying at your location during the storm.
While I pride myself in having enough basic disaster preparedness supplies to go a week or longer in my home, I live very near the current path of Hurricane Matthew, and in a structure that would likely not survive a major hurricane.
Should Matthew's track move much further west, I'd have a decision to make.
It is not a happy thought, but sometimes circumstances and common dictate that you must leave your home - and the bulk of your preps - behind.
Luckily, I have several pre-arranged places I can go. Friends, who are also disaster buddies (see In An Emergency, Who Has Your Back?), who know my couch is always available to them.
Being able to leave in a hurry when an evacuation has been ordered means having a plan, a destination, and an emergency `to go’ kit or `BOB’ already equipped, and standing by.
In the vernacular, a `bug-out bag' or `BOB’ (or sometimes GOOD bag for `Get Out Of Dodge’) a bag of emergency supplies, ideally kept at the ready, that one can grab on the way out the door during an emergency.Every hurricane season I go through my personal bug out bag, and replace flashlight and radio batteries from last year, and swap out older emergency rations for newer ones.
A BOB isn't supposed to be a survival kit, but rather, is supposed to provide the essentials one might need during the first 72 hours of a forced, and sometimes unexpected, evacuation.
It should contain food, water, any essential prescription medicines, copies of important papers (ID's, insurance, important Phone #s), a first aid kit, portable radio, flashlight, extra batteries, and ideally blankets and extra clothes.
While having to evacuate your home may seem like an unlikely event, every years hundreds of thousands of Americans are forced to do so. Rivers spill their banks, dams break, brush fires rage out of control, even sudden industrial accidents can force evacuations.
Ready.gov has the following advice on how to prepare for an evacuation
And unlike with a hurricane, you won’t always have advance warning.
Evacuating Yourself and Your Family
There may be conditions under which you will decide to get away or there may be situations when you are ordered to leave. Follow these guidelines for evacuation:
- Plan places where your family will meet, both within and outside of your immediate neighborhood. Use the Family Emergency Plan to decide these locations before a disaster.
- If you have a car, keep a full tank of gas in it if an evacuation seems likely. Keep a half tank of gas in it at all times in case of an unexpected need to evacuate. Gas stations may be closed during emergencies and unable to pump gas during power outages. Plan to take one car per family to reduce congestion and delay.
- Become familiar with alternate routes and other means of transportation out of your area. Choose several destinations in different directions so you have options in an emergency.
- Leave early enough to avoid being trapped by severe weather.
- Follow recommended evacuation routes. Do not take shortcuts; they may be blocked.
- Be alert for road hazards such as washed-out roads or bridges and downed power lines. Do not drive into flooded areas.
- If you do not have a car, plan how you will leave if you have to. Make arrangements with family, friends or your local government.
- Take your emergency supply kit unless you have reason to believe it has been contaminated.
- Listen to a battery-powered radio and follow local evacuation instructions.
- Take your pets with you, but understand that only service animals may be permitted in public shelters. Plan how you will care for your pets in an emergency.
And lastly, if you do stay put, make sure you have the proper supplies to last at least 3 days (a week is better).