(Survival manual/2. Social Issues/Evacuate)
1. When to Bug Out (Evacuate): Knowing the Signs
Disasters such as hurricanes, floods, chemical leaks and for some, societal breakdowns and terrorist attacks can cause some of the largest evacuation complications. One of the largest concerns during a disaster situation is when to leave.
While it is important to listen and keep up to date on the current status of a disaster, as well as actively acquiring information regarding the disaster, the action of packing up and evacuating rests in the evacuees hands; not the governments or the businesses telling the person they have to work until the last-minute. Relying solely on the government’s ability to manage a crisis, takes the power out of a person’s hands and places into a stranger’s hands (who may not have your best interests in mind).
Many have forgotten this and rely only on a governmental body to tell them when they can leave. It is important to emphasize that the needs and agendas of a local government are different from the citizens.
Don’t Be Another Statistic: Be Ready
In a situation where people are facing an evacuation order, time is precious. Typically, people are not ready or prepared to bug out. When the individuals are unprepared and is combined with the city’s unpreparedness, it does not make a good scenario. There is no better example of the government’s incompetence to handle these massive evacuation orders than with what happened during the evacuations of Hurricane Katrina and Rita. Many state and local governments waited until the very last moment to issue an evacuation order. Planning to evacuate thousands, if not millions of individuals in a 2-3 day time span, will cause nothing but mass chaos and unnecessary conflict.
If you live in an area that is prone to a natural disaster or widespread social unrest, it is always best to have the following ready:
• A well-defined preparedness plan with maps and alternative routes in place. Don’t leave unless there is a plan in place. A person who is prepared to leave and has a set destination in mind is more prepared than the person who is scrambling around their home trying to find items and not even thinking about what their emergency plan will be.
• A 72 hour bag that is ready to go for the family as well as a bag for any pets.
• Leave as soon as possible. Do not wait until they have opened up the contraflow lanes to evacuate.
• Have some money set aside for an emergency. Prepare for some ATM machines and banks to be closed. Example: You finally get on the road and realize you are low on gas. All the banks and ATMs are closed. In this scenario, once the gas runs out, you will be stuck with no money for food, shelter or transportation.
• Make sure the Bug Out Vehicle (BOV) is well maintained. Having the proper items to keep it going can be of great value in a disaster situation. Items such as an oil, extra tire, fix-a-flat, collapsible shovel, etc.
Knowledge is Critical
Knowledge is essential in any type of emergency evacuation scenario. Imagine how important it would be if someone had the advantage of having the information to leave 3 hours before everyone else did. If they were already prepared and ready to go, it would be a huge advantage.
• Awareness of the different advisory forms to get the most information. A person does not have to listen to the TV to get information. There are many types of emergency advisories: radio, police scanners, Internet, twitter, and even a cell phone disaster alert system to alert a person at the earliest time possible. This will give someone a heads up of what it to come.
• Know which station on the radio has Emergency Broadcast Stations. Every minute is critical when bugging out. If a person is not prepared, then they are losing valuable time. Using all known communication resources to get information and staying clued in will put a person at a greater advantage than those only listening to one type of communication form. Gathering information ahead of time of what the possible threat is (flood preparation, hurricane preparation, tornado, societal uprising, etc), and finding ways to avoid them will put a person in a better mind frame when they actually have to come head to head with the threat.
Know The Signs
Waiting until an evacuation order is issued is considered too late for many people who consider themselves prepared. Knowing the signs and acting on them is the key to bugging out at the best time. If a person knows what to look for, they can prepare to leave ahead of the hoard of evacuees.
Some signs include:
• When people begin buying emergency food and water supplies.
• Hearing the news sources talking about a possible threat is the time to begin preparing to leave.
• Seeing long lines at the bank where people are withdrawing money is a sign that something is up.
• Long gas lines is also an indicator of people beginning to prepare for a possible evacuation.
• Increased military and police presence in the streets and the community.
• Long lines at home improvement stores from people trying to buy supplies to prepare homes for disasters, buying generator needs, etc.
If a person is already prepared for such a disaster, they will not have to wait in lines full of stressed out people, not have to fight their way through a grocery store or get into a possible altercation trying to fill their cars with gas. In times of crises, many are not prepared, and the stress levels are increased exorbitantly. Everyone has one thing on their mind – getting supplies and getting out. If a person already has their supplies in order, getting out ahead of everyone will put them at a greater advantage.
Consider the Dangers and Know the Threats
Knowing when to bug out depends solely upon you and what you are trying to avoid. It is better to be safe than sorry. Obviously, evacuating in a high stress situation is absolutely the worst case scenario. Yet, this tends to be the norm for most. Most people believe that bad things cannot happen to them, so why bothering in planning for it? This mind frame is what leads to dangerous situations.
People who wait until the government suggests it’s necessary to evacuate, will have much greater chance of a chance of being caught in the mass chaos, being amongst the unprepared, stressed out drivers, and possibly face incidents of crime. Leaving at the wrong time can put a person and their family into jeopardy. Seeing the signs and knowing when to bug out will play a pivotal role in your evacuating safely; not to mention giving you the advantage of having the right mind-set, having the ability to depart quickly, and therefore, in greater safety.
The information provided is intended to give suggestions of what one may do in an evacuation situation as well as to suggest that people use the information provided by media sources and use their own sound judgment to make a decision to evacuate a city. This post in no way advises anyone not to listen to their local governments or relative news sources. It only suggests that you use the information provided by media sources and to leave immediately when they believe it is pertinent.
Evacuating ahead of the Community
With the threat of thousands of communities being displaced, there will be widespread chaos. If a mandatory evacuation is announced, the faster a person begins traveling to a preplanned destination, the better chance of dodging traffic and unnecessary stressful situations. If a person can evacuate before a mandatory evacuation has been announced, the better off they’ll be.
To expedite the process of preparing for a mandatory evacuation:
• A well-defined preparedness plan with maps and alternative routes in place. Do not leave unless there is a plan in place. Additionally, prepare multiple plans if the initial plan does not work.
• Purchase maps to use during the course of the journey.
• A 72 hour bag that is ready to go for the family as well as a bag for any pets.
• Collect any family heirlooms or memorabilia. There may be a chance you will not see your home for a while.
• Have a small supply of food and water (at least 3-5 days worth).
• Leave as soon as possible. Do not wait until they have opened up the contra flow lanes to evacuate.
• Have some money set aside and available for an emergency. Prepare for some ATM machines and banks to be closed.
• Make sure the Bug Out Vehicle (BOV) is well maintained. Having the proper items to keep it going can be of great value in a disaster situation. Items such as fuel, oil, an extra tire, fix-a-flat, etc.
2. Bug out or Batten Down? Should you Stay or Go?
We all have a strong desire to protect what’s ours. Regardless of whether you own the largest house in the neighborhood or rent a ramshackle shack, home is where the heart is, not to mention all the rest of your stuff! You’ve worked long and hard to accumulate belongings, so abandoning your home and running for safety may stick in your craw.
Thankfully, there are times when saying at home makes the most sense. If you can wait out the storm, ignore the heavy snow, batten down the hatches against civil unrest or otherwise stay at home during an emergency situation without endangering yourself, it may be your best bet. There are many advantages to staying home in a survival situation, if you can safely do so:
• The food in your refrigerator and pantry can supplement your survival stash.
• If you lose power, you can quickly cook some of your perishable food and monitor the temperature of your freezer (frozen food will usually keep at least 24 hours).
• You’ll have more time to improve your home’s chances of survival (move items to high ground, put plywood over windows, etc.)
• It offers shelter against most elements.
• You’ll have access to all your clothing, bedding and other comforts.
• You won’t suffer from boredom as much as you might in a public shelter.
• You can protect your stuff from looters.
Of course, there’s a downside as well:
• You could be putting yourself in unnecessary, life-threatening danger. (The fire, flood, hurricane, riot, etc. might be worse than anticipated. We’ve all seen TV coverage of people clinging to their roofs as the house washes downstream.)
• If you decided to evacuate later, it may be too late.
• Without heat, electricity, hot water or other services, home just isn’t the same.
• There is no sense of community, unless other neighbors or members of your local survival group stay home, too. You may feel cut off and alone.
• If a mandatory evacuation has been ordered, you may be prosecuted by local authorities (although this rarely happens).
No matter how much you wish to stay at home, there are times when evacuation is the only choice. These include a nuclear, chemical or biological event as well as any impending disaster that is likely to destroy your home. For example:
• If the warning sirens on that nearby chemical plant go off at 3 a.m., you have no choice but to don your gas masks, grab your bug out bag and drive the opposite direction as quickly as possible.
• If you’re beach-front home is directly in the path of a Force 3 hurricane, staying put might show a surplus of guts, but deficit of brains.
• Likewise the time you spend, garden hose in hand, trying to fend off a raging fire that has already burnt out six neighbors might be better spent salvaging your valuables and items with sentimental value.
3. The Evacuation Plan
There are several important elements to your evacuation plan:
A. Where to go
B. How to get to your safe house
C. What to bring with you: An ‘On the Road Evacuation Kit’+ BOB.
A. Where to Go
Sure, you can head to the nearest shelter, but if sitting on cots at the local high school gymnasium or National Guard Armory was your first choice, you probably wouldn’t be reading this.
You need a safe house or survival retreat in a location where the current crisis will not threaten you. The easiest way to set up a safe house is to coordinate with a friend or family member located between 100 and 150 miles away, preferably in a different setting. For example:
• If you’re in the inner city, they should be in a rural area or at least a smaller town, preferably not the suburbs of your city
• If you’re near the coast, they should be inland
• If you’re near a flood plain, the safe house should be on higher ground.
Following these guidelines, you can be relatively sure of several things:
• Whatever disaster you are facing should not affect them, and vice versa. This allows you to trade-off, so when they are facing a survival situation, your home can be their safe house.
• You’ll be running towards something, not just away from danger.
• You can get there on one tank of gas, even if there is a great deal of traffic (During the Hurricane Opal evacuation in 1995, it was not unusual for a 100 mile trip on the interstate to take four hours).
• You won’t be turned away at the inn (Hotel rooms are quickly filled, and often at inflated prices).
If you plan in advance, you can leave a few changes of old clothes, a toiletries kit, necessary prescription drugs, ammunition, some MREs or anything else you might need at the safe house. This will make your evacuation easier.
While many will find that a friend or relative’s house is the easiest and most cost-effective safe house, the ultimate safe house or survival retreat would be a second residence located in a very rural location. During normal times, this survival retreat can double as your vacation home, hunting lodge or weekend getaway destination. But when the flag goes up, you can evacuate to a safe house fully stocked with everything you need for self-sufficiency.
The ultimate survival retreat would be:
• Well off the beaten track, ideally reachable by a single dirt road. This seclusion will offer you a good bit of protection. For example, you can cut a large tree down across the road to help eliminate unwanted guests.
• Not too ostentatious, so that it doesn’t draw a lot of talk from locals and become a target for vandalism. Nothing wrong with a solid one-room cabin with a sleeping loft.
• Near a spring, well, stream or other natural source of water.
• Equipped with at least one fireplace or wood stove for cooking and heat.
• Within 10 to 20 miles of a village or small town where you can go (by foot, if necessary) for additional supplies, news and other contact with the outside world, should the emergency stretch into months or longer.
• Have enough arable land for growing your own vegetables and other crops.
• Near a natural, easily harvestable food source (usually wildlife for hunting or fishing).
• Provisioned with enough food to keep your family safe for at least three months, preferably a year.
• Provisioned with tools necessary for long-term self-sufficiency, should it become necessary.
• Stocked with enough weapons and ammunition to defend it from small groups of marauding invaders, should it come to that.
If you are worried about caching goods in an unattended house, where they could be stolen, you can cache a supply nearby. While most caches are buried in hidden locations, a simple solution to this dilemma is to rent a commercial storage unit in a town close to your retreat. This has several advantages:
• As long as you have access to the facility 24 hours a day (one of those outside storage areas where you use your own lock is best) you can get to your supplies when necessary.
• It will be much easier to make a few trips to and from the nearby storage facility and your safe house than carry everything with you from home.
• It’s easier to check on the status and add materials to this type of cache than one buried in a secluded location.
• In a worst case scenario, you can hoof it to the storage area, spend the night inside and hike back the next day with a full backpack.
Of course, for the ultimate protection, a buried or other hidden cache is hard to beat. The is especially true for the long-term storage of ammunition and weapons that are or may one day be considered illegal. Here are some specifics on establishing this type of cache.
B. How to Get to Your Safe House
Whichever option you’ve chosen for your safe house, the best way to get there is by car. It’s convenient, offers some protection, is relatively fast and allows us to carry much more gear than on foot or bicycle.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with taking a train or bus to a safe house in a nearby city.
While everyone chooses a car that fits their lifestyle and budget, a large four-wheel drive vehicle is the best bet for evacuating to your safe house. The bigger, heavier the vehicle is, the better. Not only do larger vehicles have greater ground clearance and the ability to ford higher waterways, they offer the most protection and carry the most gear. They also offer you and your passengers better protection in a fender-bender. When the entire city seems to be running from an impending disaster, you don’t want to be stuck on the side of the road because of minor accident.
Four-wheel drive is critical if you need to go off-road to avoid accidents, road blocks or other evacuation-related snafus.
A large four-wheel drive pick-up with a cap may be the best bug out vehicle available. But the fact is, whatever vehicle (or vehicles) you have at hand is the best bet.
The old saving about ‘never letting your car’s gas tank get below half’ makes a lot of sense. It’s also recommend that you keep a couple of five gallon tanks of gas on hand “for emergencies.” Even if you use it to fill your tank, carry it with you (strapped to the roof, perhaps) because you never know when you might find more. If you are very serious, you can have a second tank installed in your truck.
And while we’re on the subject of cars, make sure your is in good mechanical condition.
[Shown at right: Metal, Type II Gas Safety Can: The safest way to maintain and transport a small supply of gasoline.]
Taking the High Road
One of the most critical factors is route planning. You should have memorized several routes to your safe house or survival retreat and have maps on hand so you can identify alternate routes around accidents or other problem areas. The routes should include:
• The fastest, most direct route. This will be your first choice when you are getting out early, before the crowds. If you’re smart enough to beat the rush, predict an upcoming disruption, or just feel like being far away from any federal buildings on every April 19, you can take your main route.
• A back road route. This may be your best bet when the interstates are clogged with lines of cars all trying to leave “ground zero.” Sure, it would normally take longer, but it in this situation, it may be your best bet.
• An indirect route. There may be a time when you need to get away, but don’t want anyone to know where you’re going. There may come a day when it make sense to go north 200 miles out of your way to end up 150 miles east of your destination. This is also the route to choose if you have reason to believe you may be followed.
4. What to Bring With You: An ‘On the road evacuation kit’
Note that the on the road evacuation kit is a little different from your ‘stay at home’ BOB. Specifically, because you are traveling you’ll need more cash and ways to access your cash accounts, you will have to deal with the logistics of maps, routes, supplies and possible hazards along a road increasingly choked with others who are also fleeing. At the end of your journey, you may be living off your 72 hour BOB supplies. Your ‘on-the-road evacuation kit’ can be seen as an enhancement to your standard BOB. Maintain the 72+ hour emergency Bug Out Bag and Evacuation kit at home. These bags are the first — and possibly only — things you’ll grab when you’re evacuating. When the evacuation alarm is going off, for example, grab the kids, the bug-out bags and go.
Bags, you say? Yes, bags. Each member of the family should have his or her own bug out bag.
Items to include in your ‘emergency on-the-road evacuation kit’:
• At least $500 in cash, including plenty of small bills for incidentals and change for phone calls. (When the power is out, many stores can’t use their cash registers and insist on either exact change or to the closest dollar.)
• Spare or duplicate credit cards with plenty of credit available.
• A few spare checks and anything that could be used for ID if you do not have your wallet with you.
• A spare set of keys, including car, house, safe-house/survival retreat, storage facility, safe deposit box, etc.
• A single change of clothes, preferably durable heavy-weight clothes that can stand up to abuse.
• A pair of old, comfortable, already-broken-in shoes that still have some good miles left in them.
• At least a quart of water per person.
• A few MREs or other easily transportable food items, including some quick snack foods.
• Prescription or over-the-counter drugs you rely on.
• A spare pair of eyeglasses (perhaps your old prescription) and/or contacts and solutions.
• A very basic first aid kit, including bandages, an ace-type bandage, aspirin or other analgesic, first-aid cream, alcohol pads, etc.
• A phone book listing all important numbers, including friends, family, neighbors, work, school, doctor, insurance, etc.
• A good work knife and/or Swiss army-type knife.
• For those so inclined, a pistol, chambered for .357 or .38 special, and at least 50 rounds of ammunition.
Nice to Have
• Traveler checks. Gold or silver coins. Dimes, quarters and half-dollars minted before 1965 contain 90 percent silver. A gold Maple Leaf or other large coin may be too big for day-to-day transactions, but smaller gold coins are available.
• A bank card for local and national ATMs. (This assumes the electricity is not out.)
• A duplicate drivers license.
• Juice boxes or pouches.
• Unfilled prescriptions you can take to a pharmacy anywhere to be filled.
• A duplicate of your standard opthalmic eye-wear and/or a few pairs of daily or extended-wear contacts.
• A cellular phone and/or CB radio.
• A Leatherman survival tool.
• Loaded pistol magazines and a comfortable concealed carry holster.
Now that you know where to go, how to get there and what to bring when you leave in a hurry, you can take a look at long-term survival planning.
5. Long term, high volume, mobile kits
Another level in some preparedness plans are Vehicle Kits. In some cases, supplies and equipment may be loaded into an enclosed utility trailer. Some survivalists also carry a small (e.g., 250 cc) off-road-capable motorcycle in a van or truck. The mobile kit would be composed of several component kits including:
• The food supplies may include a hundred of pounds of wheat, rice, and beans; enough honey, powdered milk, canned goods, bottled fruit, vitamins, dehydrated fruits and vegetables, salt, pepper, spices, and oil for several months. Several cartons of freeze-dried entrees.
[Image above: 6×12 foot Enclosed Utility/Cargo Trailer. Typical storage capacity about 1830 cu ft, about 1800-2200 lb payload capacity, 700 lbs gross weight.]
• In addition, such kits often contain high-calorie energy bars, a cooking kit, utensils, liquid soap, towels, items to handle your laundry.
• The water supplies may include bottled water, a high volume-high quality filter kit apparatus (ie Royal Berkey filter system), bottles, collapsible water containers, and chlorine bleach for water purification.
• Food preparation and washing equipment may include items such as a grain grinder, a bread mixer, a strainer, a manual can opener, a steam canner with canning jars and O-rings, cutlery, knives, an electric 12-volt cooler icebox, kerosene or Coleman lamps and heaters, kerosene or propane stoves, extra fuel, a clothes wringer, and an electric hot plate (which would require an inverter to operate off a car battery).
• Medical supplies may include: scissors, tweezers, forceps, disposable scalpels, two thermometers (oral and rectal), inflatable splints, bandages, sutures, adhesive tape, gauze, burn ointment, antibiotic ointment, aspirin, rubbing alcohol, ipecac syrup, sterile water, cotton rags, soap, cotton swabs, a blood pressure gauge and stethoscope.
• Transportation items may include bicycles with off-road tires and suspension, emergency tools and spare auto parts (e.g., fuses, fan belts, light bulbs, head light, tire pump, etc.), and an inflatable raft with paddles.
• In addition, the kits may contain typical individual “survival kit” items, such as nylon tarps, extra clothes and coats, blankets, sleeping bags, matches (and/or other fire starting equipment), a compass and maps, rechargeable flashlights, toilet paper, soap, a pocket knife and bowie-knife, a fishing kit, a portable camping stove, a power inverter, backpack, paper and pencil, a signaling mirror, flashlight, whistle, cable saw, bleach, insect repellent, magnifying glass, rope and nylon cord, pulleys, and a pistol and ammunition.
• Communications equipment may include a multi-band receiver/scanner, a citizens band (CB) radio, portable “walkie-talkies” with rechargeable batteries, and a portable battery-powered television. The power supplies may include a diesel or gasoline generator with a one month fuel supply, an auto battery and charger, extension cord, flashlights, rechargeable batteries (with recharger), an electric multi meter, and a test light.
Defense items include a semi-automatic pistol, rifle, shotgun, ammunition, mace or pepper spray, and a large knife such as a KA-BAR or a bowie-knife.
• Tools may include cutting tools such as saws, axes and hatchets; mechanical advantage aids such as a pry bar or FuBar wrecking bar, ropes, pulleys, or a ‘come-a-long” hand-operated winch; construction tools such as pliers, chisels, a hammer, screwdrivers, a hand-operated twist drill, vise grip pliers, glue, boxes of nails, miscellaneous nuts & bolts, screws, wrench set, a nut driver, a tap and die set, a socket set, and a fire extinguisher.
If this is going to be a long-term event, bring Barterable items such as fishing line, liquid soap, insect repellent, light bulbs, can openers, distilled spirits, extra fuels, motor oil, and common ammunition in .22LR and 12 gauge.