If you had one hour to leave your house, knowing that when you return it might not be there, what would you take with you?
Growing up in Florida, we never had more than minor damage to our home from a hurricane, but we had multiple friends and close family who literally lost everything but what they evacuated with in Hurricane Ivan in 2004. They came home to unsalvageable houses after the storm, when authorities finally let them back into their neighborhoods. What little was left from the flooding was covered in mold and severely water damaged after sitting under water for days. One relative lost every picture, scrapbook and memento she had of her entire life, none of it saved to CD after she neglected to take it when she evacuated. In her panic, she couldn’t think straight about what was most important to take with her. She only had a few minutes and all of the items were stored on the bottom two shelves of a bookcase and on the floor of a closet on the first floor of her house. Her entire neighborhood was a total loss. No one expected the area would flood and all of their neighbors were in shock, thinking they were safe since they were not in a one-hundred year flood plain and the state did not require them to purchase flood insurance. Other friends came home to nothing but a concrete slab on the ground, their house swept away in the floodwater.
Make a list now in order of importance, so that if it ever happens that you have to quickly evacuate due to a wildfire, flooding or hurricane, you won’t accidentally leave precious things behind because you panicked and forgot something in the short time you had available. Items to consider include:
- Your Bug Out Bags and car kit.
- Your purse, wallet, and house keys.
- Have each child pack a small bag of items important to him or her. Make sure any security objects or beloved toys make it to the car.
- Extra food and water on top of what you have in your bug out bags and car kit, if you expect to have to evacuate for longer than three days or could possibly have difficulty obtaining those items, such as food allergies or widespread power outages are expected and the roads are already jammed, since you might not get very far before you have to seek shelter.
- All medications and supplements. Toiletries if you think you’ll be gone longer than what you have in your BOBs.
- The contents of your safe, your jewelry, irreplaceable family pictures or other mementos. Have an inventory sheet printed and in with your documents in the waterproof bag in your BOB.
- Your camera, laptop, camcorder, Blackberry, hard drives for your desktops and other electronic devices. Don’t forget chargers, power cords and the like.
- Extra clothing for each family member if you expect to be gone for longer than 3 days or don’t expect to easily be able to do laundry.
- Your pet, pet carrier, extra food and water. Kitty litter.
- Secure your livestock and make sure they have plenty of food and water.
- Items to entertain the kids, especially if you do not have a set destination such as a relative’s house.
- Pillows and blankets in case you must be in a public shelter or sleep in your car in the cold.
- If flooding is a possibility, move valuable items and your food stores you can’t take with you to the upper floor, preferably on shelving or near the ceiling.
As you leave, disconnect the natural gas, power, and water to your house in case of damage. You don’t want to come home to find out your house blew up, burnt down or flooded while you were gone and disconnecting the utilities could have prevented the damage.
KerryAnn Foster runs Cooking Traditional Foods, the longest running Traditional Foods Menu Mailer on the internet. KerryAnn has over nine years of traditional foods experience and is a former Weston A. Price Foundation chapter leader. Founded in 2005, CTF helps you feed your family nourishing foods they will love. Each mailer contains one soup, five dinners, one breakfast, on dessert and extras. You can learn more about our Menu Mailers at the CTF website. For a free sample Menu Mailer, join our mailing list. You can also join our forum to chat with other traditional foodists and learn more.