Communication & Evacuation
Knowing where your family is at, communicating with them, and evacuating together is crucial. Think of all the places your family is throughout the day: Home, work, school, shopping, the gym, a friend's, extra curricular activities, etc. If an emergency happened, how would you know where to find them, how are you going to meet up as fast as possible? This Pillar of Preparedness can be relatively quick, simple, and free, but is still a crucial part of your preparedness plan. It brings peace of mind and order to chaos.
Get a 3 ring binder or folder to compile the following documents. Label it well including on the spine so it is easily identifiable. Put a copy of all of the free PDF documents linked below on this page in your binder. Put this binder in a place that is readily available if you would need to evacuate.
Pro Tip: For the front page of your emergency binder, have an evacuation checklist. Here is an example checklist you can print off and use. Be sure to adapt it for your family.
List of Emergency Numbers
Phone batteries die, phones are lost (or stolen), phones are dropped in a puddle or the toilet. Write down the important phone numbers such as: family, emergency contact, etc. Then you can borrow a phone and still have contact numbers to call. Make copies of your list and put one in your binder, vehicle(s), purse, brief case, etc.
Pro Tip: In an emergency, text instead of calling. Texting takes 1/100th of a second to go through whereas phone calls tie up the towers for the duration of the call.
Have an out of state contact your whole family will relay information to. Your cell phone towers are more likely to be bogged down, so contacting an out of state contact is more likely to go through.
Identify places you could go incase you need to evacuate. Consider different distances from your home based on probable scenarios, and try and get one location out of town in each of the cardinal directions. If your house catches on fire, you could have a neighbor be a location. If there is a major earthquake, you would want to have a location possibly 60+ miles (100km+) away or more.
Contact these locations, explain what you are planning and see if it okay if you stayed with them for a specific duration of time. Put their contact information, possible routes, and distances in your binder.
Determine which mode of transportation you will use. This will determine what you can take with you.
If you take public transportation, you may need to walk quite a distance to find running transportation depending on your situation - plan accordingly.
If you have more than one vehicle, take your largest vehicle. If possible take as many vehicles as possible. Your first course of action is make sure all the maintenance is done and the vehicle is in good working order. Do not let the fuel tank get below half, and keep some fuel on hand (I recommend 5 gallon containers). To extend the life of your stored fuel use a fuel stabilizer. Gas Stabilizer and Diesel Stabilizer will extend fuel life to a year and beyond.
If you have a vehicle, get a trailer hitch for it if you don't already. Even if you don't have a trailer to load up, you could get a hitch cargo rack and greatly increase your capacity (make sure it fits your hitch size).
If you have an enclosed trailer or camper, keep it ready to go. Keep 2 gallons of water per person for at least three days stored in it. Have 2 changes of clothes (we love thrift stores for this). Keep enough food for you and any animals you plan on bringing. If it has fuel, such as propane, make sure they are stored topped off (propane does not go bad). Bedding and toiletries should be stored in the trailer also.
For water, make sure the containers have enough space for the water to freeze if that applies to your situation.
For food, store food that is weather resistant such as nut butters, crackers, canned meat (not stored in water), freeze dried food, pasta, and granola/protein bars (without chocolate in the summer, bummer, I know).
Keep a first-aid kit in your trailer.