Victims of the hurricanes had some warning that their area would probably be devastated and many were warned to evacuate. Victims of the Vegas shooting had moments (in the concert venue) to minutes (in the rooms closest to the shooter) to leave the area immediately. Victims of the wildfires that are currently raging in California had minutes to hours to gather what they could and evacuate. Can you imagine what you would do if you had maybe 10 minutes to grab what you could of your life and leave, probably never being able to return to get the stuff you left behind?
At minimum you need a few things (wallet, ID, phone, cash and credit cards) to see you safely away from your current disaster situation. From those few things you can set up somewhere else, regroup, and start your life over again somewhere else.
While I always have those few things with me--in my pockets or in a very unfashionable fanny pack--I prefer to have enough things with me in my EDC bag so that I feel pretty much prepared for anything. Even better is having a Bug Out Bag at the ready to grab and go at a moment's notice. Obviously a BOB would not be a very practical item to have at a concert. An EDC bag would be better (minus any firearms or other items that would be flagged by a security scan at a concert venue) for the 'flee and never return' scenario. During the wildfire evacuations, it looked like people were filling their vehicles with everything but the kitchen sink, which leads me to the conclusion that they hadn't previously given much thought to what they would take if they needed to evacuate with very little notice.
So here are some things to consider today:
- You go out for your morning run but when you come back home you see that SWAT has your neighborhood barricaded and no one will be allowed to go back to their homes until the scene has cleared which could be hours from now. What do you do? Where do you go? Do you have the stuff with you to take care of yourself until you can return home? What about your family?
- You go to a big community event, expecting to be there for the day, and are caught in the chaos of what could be a terrorism-related event/mass shooter/etc. Once you are safe, what do you do? How do you get back home? Can you get back home or are all roads to your neighborhood on lock down? Where else can you go? How would you get there? If you are separated from family members, how do you find them?
- You are on vacation at a beautiful resort and there is disaster heading your way--maybe a hurricane, an earthquake, a terrorism-related event. What do you do? How do you respond? How do you escape? How do you get back home? How do you connect with family members that you are separated from? Will you have enough food, water, and shelter to take care of yourself until help can arrive? Will help arrive? If so, who, how, and how long until they get there?
- You are at home and have seen the smoke over the hills and know that there are wildfires in your area but they have been heading away from you. Until now. Now the fires are heading your way and you receive a reverse 911 call telling you a mandatory evacuation order is now in affect for your area. You need to leave your home immediately and there is good reason to believe it will be a pile of cinders when you return. What do you do? What about the kids, pets, and cattle? Do you have a (several) evacuation routes you can take to get to safety? What do you put in your vehicle if you only have five minutes to gather the most important things? What are the most important things to take? Where will you go?
Obviously in the midst of a disaster situation, chaos will be the order of the day. But planning, practicing, and being well equipped can mean the difference between a total freak out that doesn't accomplish anything and an orderly (as orderly as possible), efficient, and effective evacuation to a safer location for you and your family.