After the triple shot of devastation served up by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, it’s worth a few minutes of your time to reassess your level of preparedness. Even if you live far away from the Atlantic or Pacific, you’re not immune. There are natural disasters that can touch down anywhere.
Take a minute to consider a few questions about your preparedness to evacuate the area.
Do you have transportation?
This seems like a silly question in a nation as infatuated with the automobile as America, but there are millions of people who live in cities who do not own vehicles. College kids on campuses across the country often have no wheels. Many elderly folks have given up their vehicles. If you don’t have an accessible, road worthy vehicle, you need to make arrangements with someone else to haul you and your supplies to your back up location. Which brings me to the second question you need to ask yourself.
Do you have a pre-planned evacuation point?
Setting up a pre-planned evacuation point with friends or family can give you a lot more confidence in your ability to find shelter from whatever you’re running from. Don’t rely on hotels, as any major disaster forcing a big evacuation will swamp them with demand. Setting up one or more pre-planned shelter locations that can hold your entire family is critical to your plan. And it must hold your entire family, which brings me to question three.
Do you have pets, and if so, will your evacuation point allow them?
One of the tragedies seen after Hurricane Harvey has been the loss of pets in the flooding. If you have pets, especially big ones like horses or other livestock, how will you evacuate them? Can you trailer them? Is there pasture land at your evacuation point, or barns? And for smaller pets, many hotels sheltering Irma evacuees are waiving their no-pets policies, but you can’t count on that every time. Make evacuation arrangements for your pet, and don’t forget they eat too, so pack them some food. Which leads in to question four.
Do you have enough gas, food and water to make it to your evacuation point?
Many people fleeing Irma were stymied by gas shortages. Meanwhile, store shelves were stripped of water in some areas. Without your own supplies of gasoline, food and water (enough to get you all the way to your evacuation point might be prudent), you and your family may be stuck relying on the mercy of strangers to get by. Americans are generous, but no one wants to have to rely on others in a time of crisis.
Bonus tip: Know your route.
Don’t rely on GPS to get you there. Know the way. If you’re evacuating to a friend or family members’ home, pay attention next time you visit them. Remember the exit numbers and keep an eye out for any potential bottlenecks or problems that might arise if a mass of people were heading the same direction.
Bonus tip Two: Don’t Forget Your Medicine
If you or a family member is reliant on medicine or a medical device to survive, don’t expect them to be where you’re headed. Either pre-position them at your evacuation point, or plan on bringing them with you.
Plan now. Don’t simply react to a disaster, prepare.
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