You’ve been reading this site (and others) and you’ve heard the alarming reports in the news, but you’ve been busy and just couldn’t seem to get started in your preparedness. Or, you’ve taken some concrete steps (you have a rain barrel to collect water and you’ve started buying extra non-perishables each month) but you live in the city and now it’s too dangerous to stay. You’ve got to get out.
What do you do?
I hope you have given thought to what you would do if you couldn’t stay where you are. If you don’t have a back-up plan, now is the time to make one.
If you had to flee your home (think forest fire, rioting, flooding, chemical spill, etc.), where would you go? Do you know anyone with an extra room or two who lives far enough away from you to be unaffected by your problem, but close enough to get to quickly? Do you think they would be willing to take you in during a true emergency? You need to find out. (And be sure to make them the same offer if roles are reversed).
What should you take?
The answer to this depends on a few things:
- How long will you need to be away from home?
- What do you have to contribute?
- What are you able to transport?
Length of Stay
If you expect to need a place to stay for a few days (like until utilities are restored after an ice storm), you are pretty much packing for a long weekend. Take clothes, toiletries, medicines, cell phones & chargers, etc. and money to purchase other items as needed.
If you think your stay may be extended, of course take the above items, but try to think about how you can make the time better for everybody by contributing to group. Try to anticipate your own needs so others don’t have to meet them. Then see how you may be able to ease the load of the kind people offering you shelter.
What if lots of other people have the same idea? If you are part of a large extended family, it could be that Uncle Bob’s cabin in the woods is suddenly really popular. Do you have a camper or tent in case “there’s no room in the inn”?
If you know you will likely not come back for a long time, think in terms of what you need for the next 3 months or more. Make sure you have any documents you may need (birth certificates, proof of residency, mortgage info, and the like). Bring all the cash you have on-hand, your checkbook, and any other valuables. Take a good selection of clothing for the next season. If you have tools, boots, flashlights, radios, fishing poles, guns, and so on, bring them. It would probably be a good idea to bring all the non-perishable food items you can fit also.
Do you have a freezer full of food that will likely go bad anyway? Put it in coolers and bring it along. Do you have a stash of candles you could share? Do you have some good diversions for the children that will be present? If it’s harvest season on the farm, bring your gloves and work jeans along and plan to help out.
If at all possible, you will want to drive your own vehicle(s) to your destination. Have you considered what you would do if that’s not possible? Do you have bicycles, wagons, or some other way to take what you need? Do you have backpacks you can fill up? Is there any reliable mass transit system you could use? What route would you take? Is it the same one that everyone else will be trying to use at the very same time?
This is really just the beginning of the things you should consider. Everyone really should have a Bug Out Bag in their vehicle or ready to grab at all times, but that is a topic for another time. If you were going to take in refugees, what would you want them to bring along?
A Final Thought
If your stay at your emergency location is short, people may act as if they are on a get-away weekend or “camping adventure.” Having fun is certainly a fine goal, but please remember that you are a guest and show your gratitude. Uncle Bob may be thrilled to have a family reunion at his place, but be ready to pitch in and chop the wood for that campfire, offer to wash the 30 dinner dishes, or anything else that needs doing.
If your stay turns out to be extended (extended civil unrest, no water/electricity, etc.), plan on seriously earning your keep. While your family/friends may be glad you are there, that will quickly change if you are a burden rather than a help. You are not on vacation- you are being graciously provided shelter (security, food, etc) by people that put aside supplies to provide for their own families and are sharing with you. It’s important that you not take that for granted. The welfare of the group depends on each member.