If there is the possibility of evacuation because of a disaster, and this could be anyone, you should prepare ahead of time. Where will you go? How long will you be gone? What should you take with you? Who will you evacuate with? These are important questions. Here are some steps to follow to maximize the chance for a safe evacuation.

1) Planning
Before evacuating you should have your plan and disaster kit prepared and ready to go. You should have a specific place in mind to go – this should be part of your plan. If it is with relatives or friends they should be aware of your approximate arrival time. Make sure that your water and electricity are turned off. Do not turn off the gas unless you anticipate being gone for a long time or there is a chance for a gas leak. Once the gas is turned off it should only be turned on by a gas company representative. Ensure that your possessions are as protected as they can be. If you are in a flood zone put valuables upstairs, if in a tornado zone put them in the basement. Use your head and be smart.

You may want to expand your disaster kit with sleeping bags and tents in case it takes longer to get to your destination than you thought. Hotels will be full and you may have to sleep in the car. Blankets or sleeping bags will make a big difference.

Emergency cash should be part of your disaster kit, but do you have enough? What if electricity goes down and you are unable to use your credit/debit cards? Do you have sufficient cash for food, gas, supplies, hotel, etc? A little planning goes a long ways. You want to be first out in an evacuation. Those that are last will have a much harder, longer journey to their destination.

If you have younger children bring games and toys for them. Listening to “Daddy are we there yet?” enough times will drive anyone nuts.

2) Leaving
You should have your pod prepared so that you can leave together. You do not want to evacuate by yourself. If you do so you leave yourself open to mechanical problems or robbery attempts. An evacuation is a stressful time and the unprepared may be tempted to take advantage of those wiser than they. Be even wiser and evacuate with a group of people so you can help each other out as required. You should prepare food, water, and sanitation supplies for the evacuation journey. What would be a 3 hour drive under normal circumstances could be 6-8 hours under evacuation conditions. Having thought ahead and prepared food and water (and having bathroom concerns covered) makes a world of difference. Stay with your pod during this time. If one needs to stop you all stop. That is what pods do.

If you stop and get out of your vehicle be wary about letting those around you see your food and supplies. Pulling into a rest stop and having lunch is relaxing – until 15-20 very hungry families show up at your table begging food to eat. Most people will NOT be prepared, and will expect/demand that you share with them. It is better to anticipate this behavior and avoid dealing with it. Stop at rest stops to use the bathrooms, but eat in the car. Do not show food unless you plan to share it. You have been warned.

Make sure your gas tanks are full before you leave, and you may want to carry an extra 5-10 gallons with you just in case. Gas stations may run empty because of the unexpected influx of customers and you do not want to be stranded.

3. Waiting

You evacuated for a reason. How long will it be before you get to return home? This could be anyone’s guess, but is determined by the type of disaster that caused it. In a hurricane you may be gone a couple days, or a couple weeks. In a zombie apocalypse you may not come back for years.