As I said last week, making the choice whether to stay home or evacuate during a hurricane is a big decision. You need to take all circumstances into account when making your decision. It’s also something that you should discuss as a family and hear everyone’s concerns for both sides of the argument. There are many pros and cons to either decision.
To evacuate your home means you are leaving many things behind. But you have to remember that those are just things. Your life and your family’s lives are much more important than that. If a major hurricane is threatening your area, more than likely you will want to start thinking about an evacuation plan. And remember, the roads will get busy, so the earlier you leave, the less traffic you will hit.
Before you leave, you will want to do what you can to protect your home, including to board up, unplug and elevate any electronics, and make sure you have everything you need packed up. Everyone in your family should know your plan, and communicate with other neighbors where you are going. You will also want to have a point of contact outside the storm’s range to be able to keep in touch with while you are preparing and leaving.
When Hurricane Charley was coming at us, we were originally planning to stay home during the storm. That was when it was supposed to go further north and hit Tampa area. Then the storm “wobbled” and started heading into our area. Weather forecasters started talking about a potential 12 foot storm surge, so we made a very last-minute decision to leave as the feeder bands were hitting the area. My uncle works for the hospital, and was on-shift during the storm, so we were able to go there. We were the last people in before they completely shut down and locked down the hospital.
I was very upset because we had to leave our cat at home. We packed up my mom’s scrapbooks with all of our family photos, a few essentials, and left the house. We weren’t prepared to evacuate the home. Make sure you prepare ahead of time, and look at all your possibilities, including where to go if you have pets because not all shelters accept pets.
Again, every person, every family, and every situation is different. These are just some guidelines to give you a starting place for what you need, and may have supplies you didn’t think of originally.
- Physical Maps with Evacuation Routes
- You don’t want to depend on your phone for the maps. Get some physical maps and highlight your evacuation route and a backup route in the event your first route is inaccessible for any reason.
- More than likely, you will be able to get water wherever you take shelter. But it never hurts to have your own water with you as well. You can also use it for drinks while you are driving.
- Non-Perishable Food
- Same as the water, you may not need it when you get where you’re going, but be prepared either way.
- Sneakers & Socks
- Protect your feet. Sandals or flip flops are not great shoes if you are walking where there is any fallen debris.
- 3-4 Days of Clothing
- You never know how long you will be out of your home, so bring at least 3-4 days worth of clothing for each person. If you have room for more, then you don’t have to try to find somewhere to wash as soon.
- Sanitary Needs
- Don’t get caught out without having any tampons/pads etc. with you when you need them.
- Diapers, Wipes, Formula
- If you have a baby with you, make sure you remember to get the things they will need as well.
- Emergency Binder
- Build your Home Emergency Binder ahead of time so it is ready to grab and go whenever you need it. When you have time to prepare, it’s best to also grab the originals of all the paperwork to bring with you as well.
- Flashlight & Batteries
- Hopefully you don’t need it, but if you have car issues and are driving at night, you may need the flashlights. If you get to a shelter, the power may still go out there, so you’ll want the flashlights there too.
- Phone Car Charger
- Keep your phone fully charged as much as possible. Have a charger in the car to help with keeping a full battery.
- Bring at least 1-2 weeks worth of any prescription medications with you. Even though the storm only lasts a day or two, it may be a while until you can get refills from the pharmacy if you run out.
- When the power is out, credit card machines don’t work either. Make sure you bring cash, and in small bills, to be able to purchase supplies you may need.
- Extensive Photos of Home
- For insurance purposes, make sure to take extensive photos of your home, inside and out, and bring those with you.
- Extra Set of Car & House Keys
- Don’t get caught with your keys locked in your vehicle while you are trying to get out of the storm’s path. Bring an extra set of keys and have two people keep them in a pocket or purse.
- Pet Carrier, Food, Leash, Collar, Tags
- If you have a pet, make sure to bring their necessities as well. Bring pet food, water, a carrier to transport them, and a leash, collar, and tags. If your pet gets separated from you, make sure they can be identified.
- External Hard Drive
- Similar to your prescriptions, make sure you have enough contacts with you and any glasses anyone may need.
- Jumper Cables
- Car trouble seems to hit at the worst times. You may need your vehicle jumped, or you may be able to help someone else by keeping a set in your vehicle.
- Scrapbooks/Photo Albums
- Material items can be replaced, but you can’t go back and retake your family photos. If you haven’t already had them digitized, try to take these with you if at all possible.
- Laptops/Tablets/Small Electronics
- Any of your small electronics can probably go with you, such as laptops, tablets, cameras, etc.
- Depending on where you stay, you may need some basic toiletries with you. Grab some shampoo, conditioner, toothbrushes, toothpaste, hairbrush, etc.
We were not ready to leave when we decided that staying home during Hurricane Charley wasn’t a good idea. At that time, my mom had not digitized her scrapbooks, so her truck was completely full of our family albums, with just enough room for us to sit in there. Don’t get caught unprepared, make sure you have the right supplies for evacuating when severe weather threatens.