5-minute Evacuation

May 22, 2009 | 16 comment(s)

My wife and I recently celebrated our 18th anniversary at a local bed and breakfast. While eating breakfast we met a very nice lady from Santa Barbara. She is a ballet dance instructor at UCSB and was in town for a regional dance competition. I asked her if the current fires were close to her home, and she said that she had been evacuated the day before. (The fires have completely burned 77 homes and damaged an additional 22. 30,000 people were evacuated and have now returned, but they are to remain ready to leave again at a moments notice.) She said that she was given about 5 minutes to get what she needed and leave– possibly never to return.

This got me thinking about how can we prepare for this type of emergency. If you were given only 5 minutes to go through your house for the last time, would you be prepared to do so? I asked some of our seasoned employees here at EE what they would recommend doing to be prepared for a situation like this.

They consistently mentioned the following 3 recommendations (click on the hyperlinks to read more on each topic):

1) Have a family evacuation plan.

2) Sustain life by having some type of emergency kit (including water) near an exit.

3) Preserve and protect your valuables, such as important documents or special family photos. You need to decide what is most valuable to you and your family and then come up with a way to protect it.


Here are some excerpts from a letter we just received from one of our customers:

Dear Emergency Essentials,

I just wanted to thank you for your company and the great products you provide. I decided about two months ago that our family should purchase 72 hours of MRE food…It arrived about a week ago. Little did I know the timing couldn't have been better.

In the past three days we have experienced six fires in our valley. Sunday, we got our 72 hour kit and food ready to go in our car. Monday, half of our ward in Saugus and part of the adjacent Stake in Canyon Country was evacuated. We were only block away from the evacuated area. Luckily our area did not evacuate and the others in our ward were able to go home the same day. But, a few in the other Stake lost their homes. Then later on Monday, another ward in our Stake a few miles away in Stevenson Ranch had to evacuate immediately with a new fire. The fire went by fast and the fire department was able to protect all the homes. Then on Tuesday a fire started just down the road from us, but was put out quickly with two helicopters…

…It was so comforting to know we had our kit, food and a safe place to go.

Thank You,
Laura, California

This post was posted in Uncategorized and was tagged with planning, emergency kit, Emergency plan, water, evacuation, evacuation plan, bug out bag, water storage, water filters, documents, photos, valuables, 72 hour kit


  • Anonymous  |  May 18, 2009

    Hope her house was OK when she got back.

  • Tammy  |  May 28, 2009

    Always a good idea to be ready for a disaster like this.

  • Anonymous  |  June 3, 2009

    I have been buying from this website for years and will continue for a long time. Excellent products.<br /><br />Luis from<br />California

  • Ann  |  June 3, 2009

    A suggestion for storage of valuables. My husband and I purchased a large fire proof gun case. We store our genealogy and old pictures in there. The amount of genealogy we have can not be picked up in an emergency so this was our alternative. We keep the case in our basement since fire tends to rise more then go lower. It is fire proof up to 65000 btu for over an hour.<br />With some of our pictures. The oldest ones. I took to a photo shop and had them put on a cd. The orignals are too big for a safety deposit box so the cd is stored there. If anything happens I at least still have copies even if the originals are destroyed.<br />We keep all of our food storage down there also in our pantry. The lower temps allow for longer storage.

  • BJ  |  June 3, 2009

    I grew up a military kid. We always had a &quot;go&quot; bag at the ready. In this go bag ( a small duffel) was two days change of clothing, our passport, and hard candy and other vital essentials. Nowadays, I would add drink boxes, or water as well, as MRE&#39;s or other food supplies. <br />Mom&#39;s bag was always bigger as she carried shot records, vital documents (birth certificates, etc). We had to be prepared to evacuate should the need arrive. We had bug out drills at every overseas base I ever lived at, and you had to be able to get your go bag and be down at the evac site (usually the base airport) within 15 minutes(including traveling from whereever you were to get your bag if not at home). Each of us kids knew our part. Now I no longer live overseas, but I still have a &quot;go bag&quot; that has 3 days worth of supplies, changes of clothing, id papers (passport and birth certificate) and mine all fits in an external frame backpack. I still remember to change clothing on season changes, and I do tend to keep it in the truck with me as I travel. If you make it a part of your routine, it is not a fearful thing for your kids, and they will know exactly what to do, where to go, and who to look for at the other end. <br />Just a thought.

  • BAB  |  June 3, 2009

    People always think about bugging out from home. Everyone should have separate evacuation plans for:<br />1) home<br />2) work (not just out of the building)<br />3) the city or town they live in<br />4) the region<br /><br />Having lived through 9-11 in DC and having lost a family member and many friends in the WTC (FDNY) I can tell you people in cities don&#39;t always think about getting out of town. Ever since it took people 4 hours to cover a normal 30 minute commute on 9-11, I have had a folding bicycle in the back of my car. I can cover that same distant in 45 minutes on a bicycle.<br /><br />Have you thought about sheltering in place because you can&#39;t leave town? There were many times after 9-11 that they shut down bridges and tunnels around NYC, Staten Island was locked down for a few hours a number of times, it could be for a longer time period if something bigger happens.<br /><br />Don&#39;t just have one plan, be ready for a number of events. Also, if you don&#39;t know how to send and receive text messages, learn. Text can go through if the network is still available, cell calls will get jammed out and you will not get through to your loved ones.

  • BJ  |  June 3, 2009

    I applaud your having a folding bike. That is an excellent answer should the bridges and roads become clogged. I am sorry for your loss. I was at the truck stop just across the river and watched it happen, knowing two of my drivers and both of their trucks were right in there (one was at ground zero as the WTC collapsed-driver made it out 3 days later, the truck a total loss. <br />Another thing my son reminded me, is that my mother (now myself, and my adult children) always had a &quot;tin box&quot;. This is where important documents could be kept in the house until needed for evacs. The box is fireproof, and everyone in the family knew where it was kept, and we all knew to grab it if still in place as we went by it. Even now in our electronic age, I still have a daytimer with handwritten addresses and phone numbers for my family and friends. Just last month out here in the desert a contractor cut through a fiber optic line, and we were without cell service,not text messages, internet service, credit card services and ATM&#39;s for three days. It was a real wake up call. How many of us carry cash anymore? But if the ATM&#39;s all are down, how do you get cash to buy gas, food, or whatever you need. Since that I make sure I have cash in the house in an amount that would get me where I need to go and cover expenses for 3-4 days. <br />You have to practice being ready because in the clutch there is not time to wonder what to do first....it must be an automatic reaction to give you and your family the best chance to survive.

  • mht07  |  June 3, 2009

    An emergency kit is such a great idea ... one of those essentials we overlook!

  • USA_Dave_Iowa  |  June 3, 2009

    I took a page from a survival website and listed out the threats in my area (Central Iowa). Fairly simple here, floods, tornadoes. In commenting to a friend about this she asked,&quot;Don&#39;t you live near railroad tracks?&quot;<br />Derailments never crossed my mind!<br />We get so used to the trains around here. Don&#39;t forget about rail disasters!

  • Anonymous  |  June 3, 2009

    You can back up all your digital pictures and video to an external hard drive that can be taken quickly and takes up little space. On a thumb drive I keep a record of various bank account and insurance policy numbers, contact numbers and a PDF copy of the US Army Survival manual. Important info is of course password protected. I have a GHB in my car at all times, a BOB at home and a cache of supplies to be taken if we are leaving for an extended period of time or if we need to shelter-in-place. Contengiency plans for what to take and/or do for various situations are printed out and posted with the supplies.<br /><br />I think you have to look at your situation and determine what emergency is most likely. For me the major ones are flood, earthquake and nuclear disaster, with the less extensive being fire, tornado and ice storm. Then you have to prepare accordingly. Everyone&#39;s situation is different.

  • Dean  |  June 3, 2009

    This is our second year at a serious attempt at gardening. We would like to learn about gardening and composting.

  • WordWriterBetsy  |  June 3, 2009

    With only 5 minutes to evacuate I am not sure exactly what I would pick to go with me. Having an emergency bag ready would really make this situation much much easier. Thanks for making me think concerning 5 minute evacuation plans.

  • Rev Cerridwyn  |  June 4, 2009

    The thing I noticed most in your suggestion is the one I am worst at. After reading (and buying) at EE for years, I have my BOB, my money saved out and hidden where I can get it easily, and my important documents ready to go. What I don&#39;t have is a list of THINGS that I would want if the SHTF. <br />Our family was never into photos, but I have Great Aunt Mary&#39;s desk, Great Aunt Leona&#39;s carved tables and screen and grandma&#39;s teacup collection. My husband also has family things. <br />Now I need to make a list and decide now what we would try to save given limited space and time. Space-wise the screen would have to go, but maybe a representative carved end table? Time-wise, we couldn&#39;t pack the collection, but if I keep one carefully packed teacup in my 2nd BOB?<br />I&#39;ll need to think about all this.

  • Kathy D  |  June 5, 2009

    I have a friend who lives on a barrier island which is one of the first to evacuate during hurricane season. For her birthday I put together an emergency 3day &quot;GIT KIT&quot; that fits in a one gallon ziplock bag. It&#39;s one less thing she&#39;ll have to worry about when that day comes again.

  • Leroy  |  June 5, 2009

    I would like to see a discussion on different levels of preparedness from the perspectives of:<br />1. Water is the primary concern<br />2. Have water but food is the primary concern<br />3. Have water & food but medical is the primary concern.<br /><br />Or some breakdown like this. Thanks.<br />James from Missouri

  • Roger Orr  |  April 13, 2012

    I just had a scare with wild fires in CO. My wife and I realized that we do not have stuff ready to bug out. We have been fixing that.

Post a Comment