Evacuation Destinations

It could be due to the calamity itself, such as flooding or wildfires. Or, it might be because of your biggest risk after the disaster hits—other people—with looting and other negative activities happening too close to home. Perhaps you simply miscalculated the amount of supplies you needed and now must venture to greener pastures. Whatever the reason, it is best to be prepared to bug out, just in case.

In the vast majority of common or likely disasters, hunkering down at home is going to be your best bet. Hitting the road involves a lot of risks and unknowns. However, a well-rounded plan will take into account the possibility that a crisis might force you from your home.

If you take a walk back through recent US history, you’ll find that the vast majority of disasters have been local or, at best regional, in size. Meaning, help and shelter can be found over the next hill or just beyond, metaphorically speaking. With that in mind, do some advance planning and decide where you can go, if you need to leave in a hurry.

Where to Go

Heading out on the road without a destination in mind just makes you a refugee. Perhaps a well-equipped one, but a refugee nonetheless. It is essential that you make plans ahead of time as to where you’re going to go if you need to evacuate. Talk to family and friends who live within a day’s drive, give or take a few hours. Also identify hotels, motels, and the like that could be viable options, keeping in mind policies about pets, if that’s applicable to your situation.

DO choose a few different potential bug out locations, ideally in opposite directions. If you can’t reach your primary choice, it is good to have backups. Talk to family members as well as close friends about shacking up with them for a day or two in case of an emergency. Don’t overlook motels outside your immediate area, too.

DON’T show up empty-handed, if at all possible. In fact, you might go so far as to stash some supplies at your chosen locations ahead of time, if feasible. Nothing outlandish, just a small tote filled with extra clothes and other necessities. This applies for the homes of family/friends, not motels, of course.

DO plan routes to your chosen locations, ideally veering away from densely populated areas. Try to avoid interstates and other heavily trafficked roadways that are likely to turn into slowly moving parking lots.

DON’T plan to head for wilderness areas to live off the land, not unless you have the experience and knowledge to truly pull that off. In most likely disaster scenarios, your lot won’t be improved by running to the forest. That said, there are an awful lot of people who still have this sort of plan and you might find that state forests and similar areas become quickly overrun by people who all had the same idea.

When to Go

Nobody has a truly magical crystal ball that can tell the future with exacting detail. Thus, we need to rely on red flags as well as past experience to give us a hint of what might be coming around the corner.

DO decide ahead of time on a few cues or indicators that mean it is time for you and your family to hit the road. The most common one might be receiving instructions from law enforcement or other emergency personnel that evacuation is mandatory. Failing that, perhaps reliable reports that violent mobs are moving out from the city center and headed in your direction.

DON’T wait until the last possible moment. The idea is to get out ahead of the crowd, so you aren’t caught up in the madness that is likely to ensue.

DO get into the habit of keeping at least a half tank of fuel in every vehicle. The last thing you want is to have to stop for gas on the way out of town, or worse, run dry and have your car die on the road.

DON’T overlook the importance of practice runs or drills with your family. Start slow and easy, letting them know what’s going on and walking through the evacuation step by step. Over time, increase the sense of urgency so as to speed things up. Along the way, review what has worked and what hasn’t, adjusting as needed.

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