Tuesday, May 24, 2016

5 Things to Think About for Emergency Evacuation from your home

Like many families, we have college age children studying away from home.  They happen to be living and studying in "weather-challenged" parts of the country, with higher-than-average risk for earthquakes, wild fires, hurricanes and tornadoes.  As parents, we worry about their safety should things go sideways and they have to evacuate (ie: it is not safe to shelter in place).  The recent fires in Alberta, Canada have brought home the realization that sometimes "bugging in" is NOT an option.

"Hurricane Preparedness Week" public education awareness week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was this past May 15th - 21st. Their timely tips and information guides generated an overdue discussion about various emergency scenarios that could arise in the near future in their specific locations. The Red Cross also publishes various guides to suggested preparations for a variety of disaster situations that would be most appropriate for your specific situation.

FREE RESOURCE:  Hurricane Safety Checklist & valuable hurricane info

Young people aren't particularly known for advance planning, so when walking through their emergency plan with them, several items came up that will be handy if/should they need to evacuate and seek safe shelter elsewhere.  This is addition to the basic items (CA$H on hand, food, water, medical supplies, shelter, safety, extra medication, extra pair of prescription glasses, ID documents) that they already have in their personalized "go" bags:

NOAA generates predictive models of hurricane landing sites
1.  Hand crank emergency radio with charger.  An emergency radio will help keep you apprised of any new developments and NOAA alerts (ie: flooding, fires shifting due to winds, road closures).  Obviously a hand-crank generation version is preferably over one that just runs on batteries.  Newer models also include the option of charging ports to recharge cell phones and other small electronics, and a 12V plug for charging/using in your car.  NOAA recommends having a portable, crank or solar powered charger.

One that was highly rated by a consumer rating group was the Eton FRX.  The Red Cross also sells a newer, less expensive branded version.

2. Waterproof Stuff Sacks:  Well known to sailors, backpackers and hikers, keeping your stuff dry and clean in deteriorating weather conditions is invaluable. The "Dity" (laundry) bags are also perfect for lining a "to go" backpack/bugout bag.

Many experts believe California and other areas lying on fault lines are overdue for another catastrophic event

3. A siphon/handpump  A handpump can make transfer of fuel from several vehicles to the "go" vehicle easier and safer; food grade siphons are also invaluable for pumping water into a larger container.  It's a small item that many preppers don't think about.

Likewise, being able to store extra fuel on site (if you have a place to safely store it) is helpful, as gasoline fuel pumps will be inoperable in storms where there is a loss of power.

4. Solar powered lanterns  Alternative sources of light, such as emergency candles and kerosene lanterns, are favored by many preppers.  Advances in technology have made solar powered lanterns competitive cost-wise, and many newer lightweight versions now feature an accordian-style body which allows them to be folded compact and stored when not in use.


5. Handheld GPS An expensive item for most people, but definitely a worthwhile investment for those who live in an area that they are not intimately familiar with (typical for students living away from home).  While discussing the emergency evacuation plan, it's important to pre-mark the rendezvous locations well ahead of time in the GPS.  A hand-held GPS with destination coordinates preprogrammed allows you to not only safely stay on course even with unforeseen road closures (flooding, fire) but can also be taken with you if you have to abandon your vehicle.  When we had to evacuate due to a local wildfire jumping the firebreak, having the GPS preprogrammed was mission critical.

Handheld GPS is invaluable in emergencies

Sometimes your planned evacuation route is not an option

These items were in addition to helping them organize "bug out bags" stocked with food, water, basic medical supplies and emergency shelter preps and other items appropriate to their specific location.  Many areas have a localized "Citizen Council Corps" that plans for the most-likely disaster scenarios to occur in your area.  This may be a resource that is worthwhile to contact and get involved with as part of developing a Community Preparedness Plan (CPP).

We've encouraged our children to store their personal ID documents other than their driver's license and student ID cards (passport, birth certificates, credit cards) along with pilferable valuables and their emergency cash (no bills larger than $20) in waterproof ziplock bags in a small, portable safe.  This also has the advantage of being easy to "grab and go" their valuables if they need to quickly evacuate.

Even if you aren't forced to evacuate, investing in an UPS and back-up generator is also worthwhile to cope with extended power outages.

UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply).  This is invaluable for anyone who works at home, (like our daughter who tele-commutes or runs a small business from home) and has data that they can not afford to lose. UPS modules also do double duty as power surge protectors for your computer.


Backup Generator Set Although pricey, for those who live in weather-challenged areas, or in a community that has less than reliable power, investing in either a portable or hard-wired site generator is something that should be seriously considered.  Portable generators, although less expensive, must only be operated outdoors - trying to operate indoors can be fatal.

This was not intended to be an exhaustive or comprehensive list, but we hope that this post has kick-started you into reviewing BOTH your own shelter-in-place and evacuation plans.  Sometimes staying in place is NOT an option.

You may enjoy reading some of our tips about sheltering in place, aka "Bugging In".

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1 comment:

Patricio Pantheleon said...

No one is resilient to natural calamities but having the right amount of preparedness makes the difference. As you stated regarding your daughter, having the best kind of uninterruptible power supply to protect your computer from any harmful sudden rise and lags of power would hurt your PCs so badly.