As always, send your comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Previous versions of my column can be found on my blog at www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com. Dave Robinson is the Postmaster in Bandon, Oregon, and the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us”. Available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers.
When it is no longer safe to live in your home, then it’s time to evacuate. Some evacuations are middle-of-the-night, grab what you can and run because the water heater just set the house on fire. But more often we think of evacuating in the face of a hurricane, tornado, or other cataclysmic event. Then there are the times that you have a little more warning. In past columns, I haven’t dwelt too much on evacuation because in our region, hurricanes and tornadoes are just not that common.
Recent wildland fires in northern Alberta, Canada, have underscored the fact that evacuation can be a reality. According to news reports, over 80,000 people have fled their homes as a result of out-of-control fires in the region. When it comes to wildland fires, our local officials tell us there are three levels of evacuation notices. Level 1 is to be ready. Residents are encouraged to move livestock and pets out of the area. Check your plan and begin to make preparations to bug out. Gas up your car. Evacuation is voluntary at this point. Level 2. Residents are ordered to leave soon! Roads are usually closed and entry to evacuated areas may be denied. Residents may have time to gather necessary items, but will do so at their own risk. The time for making a plan is past and it is now time to gather your family, supplies and head for safety. A Level 3 notice is an order to leave immediately, that imminent danger exists and there is no time to gather personal belongings. Jump in your car and hit the road.
Fire officials noted some folks were more “disaster-ready” than others. Each family was told to consider the 5 “P’s” when making plans to evacuate. The 5 “P’s” include (1) People and Pets (and livestock too), (2) Papers (important documents), (3) Prescriptions, including hearing aids, eyeglasses and your medications, (4) Photographs, so your memories are preserved and finally is (5) your Personal Computer. There is often invaluable, irreplaceable data on your hard drive.
Of course, having a complete 72 hour kit at the ready is going to ease the task of deciding what to take, and as always having a plan in place will eliminate a whole lot of confusion when the time comes to evacuate. When you have a plan, the panic factor, not to mention the stress on the marriage and overall volume of the conversation, is greatly diminished.
Get a Kit, Make a Plan, and Be Informed is still the theme for every disaster. The best time to make ready is now, before the fire department comes knocking.