Plan ahead. No matter what disaster you need to escape, you don’t want to be halfway through your journey before you realize that you’ve left an important item behind. Check the following off of your list before you head out on your own to ensure that you’ll be covered under every circumstance.
The Family Plan
Naturally, family comes first but no one thinks they’re at risk of actually leaving anyone behind in a tenuous situation. Remember, however, the stories from Hurricane Katrina about how many people were unable to get to relatives in nursing homes or at babysitters’ homes following the storm.
Create a clear plan about who will pick up the kids at school, the grandparents at their homes and the family members from work if a disaster is imminent. In addition, keep a list of pet-friendly hotels in your car, so if you have to cut out of town quickly, you can head straight to one of them with your animals.
Create your own evacuation zoneIf you live near a nuclear power plant, a known hurricane region or tornado alley, you are all too familiar with signs throughout your community that point you toward the evacuation route.
But the evacuation signs will only take you so far. Take a ride around your town’s evacuation routes and map out what you would do after the final sign to continue your journey out of town after the routing signs end.
Food and Water
You won’t get far without sustenance, and you should have a plan about how you’ll get it. Your best bet is to pack non-perishable food and water for survival now so you’ll have it ready when the time comes.
Your only alternate in a survival crisis would be to know how to find it in the wild. If that’s your plan, hone those skills now so you won’t come up short.
First-aid and Sanitation
Keep a first-aid kit nearby to handle any scrapes or maladies that may hit you on the road, and also be sure you have any required medications and the means to administer them.
For instance, if you have a diabetic family member, be sure you have an extra pack of sterile syringes that you could use. In addition, don’t forget about sanitation requirements.
Keep sterile wipes on-hand to clean any surfaces where you might need to eat. In addition, have some anti-bacterial hand wipes with you, as well as toilet paper, paper towels, feminine protection, diapers and any other items that you use in your everyday life.
Depending on how you landed in a survival situation, there’s always a chance that cell towers won’t be operational. You’ll want to pack some two-way radios, a set of flares or smoke signals, and a transistor radio to signal people in the event of an emergency.
Pack several flashlights and a few extra sets of batteries in case you need light when no electricity is available. However, don’t rely solely on those.
We all remember the scene in “Castaway” when Tom Hanks’ character fell asleep with his flashlight on, and it didn’t last him more than a night. You should also have some candles and several packs of strike-anywhere matches so you will be able to rely on their light if all else fails.
Your best bet is to have the appropriate tent(s) to house your entire family should a disaster strike, but if you don’t have one, you can always create a makeshift shelter out of materials you’ve got, such as tarps. However, if you’re planning in advance, you can get a tent, some sleeping bags and blankets to create a home on the road if necessary.
Keep cash on-handWhen disaster strikes, ATMs will run out of cash quickly, and odds are strong that they won’t be refilled anytime soon. You may not even have access to the money in your savings account because the banks could be closed.
The only way you’ll be able to land a hotel room, buy supplies or fill your gas tank is to have some cash with you. Calculating how much to carry is up to you, but you should at least be sure you have enough money for a few nights in a hotel room and several tanks of gas.
Your survival plan may including hunkering down close to home, but if it doesn’t, you’ll need to be able to get where you’re going without running out of fuel. In certain circumstances, gas stations may not get refilled by the fuel supply truck, and you’ll be out of luck.
For example, when hurricanes are on their way, most coastal gas stations run out of fuel quite quickly, so it’s a good idea to keep some gasoline in your garage for emergency situations.
No survival kit is complete without a knife. This is not only a smart idea from a self-defense standpoint if you’re ever in danger but it’s also essential for tasks you’ll face throughout your journey. From cutting branches to slicing into rope, a knife will be one of the most important things in your kit.
You may think maps are passé now that mobile phones and GPS systems have created such flexibility for travelers, but if those aren’t useable, you’ll have to rely on good old-fashioned paper maps.
Keep a few local maps with you, but also have a good U.S. road atlas in case your travels lead you beyond the expected route. Keep an address book with the maps so you can make your way to the home of a loved one if you need to escape some-where safe.
Foul (and fine) weather gear
Heading out of town in August doesn’t just mean bathing suits and tank tops. You never know how long you’ll be on the go, so be sure to pack the right apparel for rain, snow, heat and temperate climates, just in case.