Step 6: Relocation Plan
Our home is our castle, yet sometimes we must make the call to get out of dodge in a hurry. Even if an evacuation order isn’t mandatory, you might find it prudent to leave the area. Most people will flee a disaster, but our goal to execute a coordinated relocation. What is the difference? To flee is to unexpectedly and extemporaneously abandon you home; we will, through proper prior planning, execute our well thought-out relocation plan. As with all the preparation steps, your mental perspective will make the difference between surviving and thriving. We prefer to “relocate” rather than “evacuate” because evacuation implies a dependence upon the government to coordinate our movements, whereas relocation implies that we have complete control over our actions, timeline and destinations. Remember, our goal is to thrive without needing outside assistance. That said, I do recognize the need to listen to the authorities for advisements and warnings, however, a keen situational awareness will empower us to anticipate those warnings before the general population begins to hastily react.
The truth is, despite how much we plan to, we cannot always stay in our home. A sudden wind shift can redirected a raging wildfire over the ridge and consume your home in minutes. A flashflood can overwhelm a levy and sweep through your neighborhood, pulling your house off its foundation. Civil unrest may turn your metropolitan community into a battlefield, where even the best home defense plans are insufficient. Clearly we need to be prepared to execute a prudent relocation at any time. A thoughtful relocation will only be possible by completing the proper planning steps prior to any trigger event.
- Pack a Bag – This type of bag has many names around the prepared community: Bug out Bag, Go-Bag, Get out of Dodge Bag, etc. Whatever you want to call it, have a bag ready, packed with everything you will need for 72 hours. The bag itself should be a backpack, in the event you will need to become foot mobile. Contents should include: MREs, a water source, shelter, change of clothes, personal defense, physical currency, and personal documents. This bag is the key to a proper relocation, and should provide everything you need to avoid population centers, allowing you to reach your destination as soon as possible.
- Coordinate Shelter – Contact your family and friends to ask if their house would be open to you and your family in the event of relocation. This must be done well in advance, and it must be an honest realistic conversation. Most of our family and friends would gladly open their home; however, some might not be the best for you and your family. Would you want to bring your family of 4 to stay in your friend’s studio apartment? The goal is to have a list of people, geographically diverse, to which you could relocate to, and thrive for an extending period of time. Of course any place is better than none; we want to take the time now to think critically about where we might want to go. Because we cannot predict why we will need to leave, your list needs to have as many locations as possible in as many places as possible.
- Map your travel routes – Begin with the locations at the top of the list and physically plan the trip on a map. Do not relay on computer based planning software unless you also a physical copy to reference. Map multiple ways to leave town. If your area is under a mandatory evacuation order, the most obvious travel routes, like the interstates, will quickly become overwhelmed. Consider the amount of gas required to reach your location. If the location will require multiple days, plan multiple places to rest. Know where the rest stops are in case the hotels are full. Your bag will have what you need to sleep in the car. If you do have more than one driver, plan to drive through the night, alternating sleeping shifts. The further you can stay ahead of the general population the better you will be.
The aftermath of hurricane Sandy brought widespread fuel shortages, and the stations with gasoline did not have power to pump the fuel to the surface. Adopt the habit of keeping your fuel tank above half full. Most cars can still drive upwards of 200 miles with half a tank, often more than enough to promptly leave a disaster area. By having a 10-20 gallon gasoline reserve stored at your home, you can further extend your relocation range. Note: untreated gasoline has a shelf life of no more than 60 days; however fuel stabilizers (available at your local auto parts store) can extend the life of your fuel storage beyond 6 months. Plan to rotate your fuel storage periodically.
Do not wait for the government to declare an evacuation. Your window for success will be created by your situational awareness and confident decision making, and will close once the general population catches up to you. Trust your instincts and commit to your decision, for your family will derive their strength from your confidence and poise.