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How to prepare a family emergency plan part 4: evac supplies

The best way to survive a disaster is to not be there when it happens
The best way to survive a disaster is to not be there when it happens
Michael Nagle Getty Images

In the last article, I talked about putting supplies aside for an emergency that would require a family to hunker down in their safe room. Unfortunately, staying at home during a disaster is not always an option. Often times the best way to survive a disaster is to not be there when it hits. Getting out of a disaster's way quickly and efficiently means putting together some evacuation supplies while the skies are blue and the Grid is functioning. Here are my recomendations for the supplies everyone needs to have set aside before you attempt an evacuation.

Supplies for Evacuation

- Maps and Contact Information: In the first articles in this series, I talked about destinations and communication. Before we consider evacuation, we need to know where we are evacuating to, how we will get there and how we will communicate with the people who might already be there. Have a detailed map of your evac route prepared while the skies are still blue. If you have created a co-operative network with likeminded individuals, make sure they know you're coming if times get bad and vice versa. Remember that your human resources are more important than your gear. Consider government run shelters destinations of last resort.

- Security: Refugee movements are like swarms of locusts; they wipe out everything in front of them and leave nothing behind. Don't count on finding any place that is selling gas, food, ice or water and count on people fighting over what little is available. Expect to run into plenty of traffic snarls, fear, distrust and hostility. Before you leave, (legally) arm yourself with whatever you can. If permitted, bring firearms, less-than-lethal devices or good ol' weapons of improvisation like machetes and baseball bats. Don't use a weapon unless you have no other option and use common sense when transporting your defensive tools. Disasters have a bad habit of turning otherwise rational people into barbarians. Prepare accordingly.

- Bug Out Bag aka Grab and Go Bag: Each member of your group needs a backpack or similar rig that contains the following: a heavy duty poncho, two large drum liners, an emergency blanket, cordage, sheath knife, multifunction pocketknife, multiple firestarting implements, flashlight, extra batteries, a metal cup or pot for boiling water, a water bottle or collapsible water bladder, two Ziploc bags, toilet paper and a small first aid kit. If you have room, add some non- perishable, easily prepared food like MREs or freeze dried meals. These items will allow you to provide for the basics of shelter, fire, water and food should you need to abandon your communal supplies.

- Safe Room Supplies: The following items should already be in your safe room. Take them with you when you evacuate: bottled water, a change of warm clothes (including shoes and rain gear) for each member of your group, sleeping bags and/or blankets, non-perishable food, a first aid kit, sanitation supplies, copies of important documents, flashlights, batteries, prescription medications, supplies for family members with special needs including infants and the elderly, extra glasses, spare keys and garbage bags. Put a duffel bag in your safe room so you can throw everything in it when it's time to go. If your group is large and one bag isn't big enough, dedicate one bag for food/sanitation and one for blankets/clothes/first aid.

- Currency: If you can afford it, keep a stash of cash or, better yet, precious metals in your Evac Kit. Don't count on ATMs working or businesses accepting credit cards. In a disaster, cash isn't king; it's the only thing. Precious metals are even better than cash because they have inherent value no matter where you are. In a hyperinflation scenario, precious metals might be the only form of currency with any value. Stay away from large pieces of bullion and keep your stash in small denominations. It is much easier to buy a tank of gas with a few silver coins than it is to attempt to negotiate for the full value of a Krugerrand.

- Tool Kit: Hopefully, you will be travelling by vehicle for most of your evacuation so have everything needed to keep that vehicle running packed and ready to go at a moment's notice. Even if you have the mechanical ability of an amoeba, you need to have some kind of basic tool kit. Assuming your vehicle comes with a spare tire, jack, and lug wrench, add a couple of screwdrivers, pliers, an adjustable wrench, flares, tow cable and a roll of duct tape. Get a tire repair kit and a couple cans of Fix-a-Flat or a 12V pump. Get some jumper cables or, better yet, a jump starter. If you have the room and the resources, include a fire extinguisher, shovel, axe, pry bar and bolt cutters. You probably already have half this stuff laying around your garage so throw it all into a tool bag and put it in your vehicle or next to your other supplies.

- Fuel: Keep your vehicle's gas tank filled and keep an empty fuel can in your vehicle. During an evacuation, fill up your tank and the extra can the first chance you get. Gasoline is one of the first resources to disappear along evacuation routes.

While all this might seem like a lot, keep in mind that all of the items listed here will easily fit into the trunk of a mid sized sedan. With a thrifty mindset and a little prudent shopping, the cost of this kit might just prove to be the cheapest insurance policy you ever bought.

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