Thursday, March 13, 2014

Preparedness on the Cheap: Evacuation Plans Part 1

(Preparedness on the Cheap is a series of articles for the prepper and everyone else that doesn't have a lot of money, but needs to take steps to be prepared. A good deal of prepping is learning, planning and organizing. Prepping doesn't have to cost a lot of money, but does involve a lot of doing!)

One thing that most people fail to plan for is having to evacuate. Making evacuation plans and practicing them is a very frugal and cheap way to prepare. The whole family can be and should be involved in making them and practicing them.

Evacuation plans can have many levels/steps to them:
  1. Evacuating the home in case of fire or a natural disaster, but still staying on the property
  2. Evacuating the home due to natural disaster or emergency and leaving the premises
  3. Evacuating the area due to natural disaster or emergency
  4. Evacuating to another area altogether

Many of these plans are intertwined together and can have many steps.

For step #1, one of the first things I did when I made plans was to print off a map of our farm from Google Earth. With the map present, I could make a plan for my children about where to meet. I also have 2-3 meeting places set, just in case. My garage is separate from the house by 75 feet and that is meeting place #1. The machine shed is even further away from the house and depending on weather conditions, the machine shed shop area is meeting place #2.  The opposite corner of our property from the house is meeting place #3. Ideally I want to meet in the garage because that is where the vehicles are and we could move and/or use the vehicle as shelter also.

For step #2, I copied a map of the area and the county from the plat map books we get in the mail from the county. I highlighted multiple routes from our house to take in case we should have to leave the premises. If you live in a town/city, have a city map with routes marked. A good idea would be to have copies of these maps in each vehicle.  Another good idea is to have prearranged plans with family and friends who live locally to you that you can go to if staying at home is no longer a viable option. I have three places for us to go if we cannot stay at the farm and have arranged this with the people living there. I also have written down a few places that would be likely to have a Red Cross emergency area set up just in case we would need it.

For step #3 and #4, I have a map in each vehicle we own of the state of Iowa and am working on putting an atlas in each vehicle. I have highlighted routes to get to the three places we could go to depending on the natural disaster/emergency and the area it covered. I made sure to highlight the ideal route and several alternate routes just in case. I also have routes that do not use the main roads in case of blockades or checkpoints. I really just don't want to deal with them if I don't have to.

If you have college kids, you will want to do these maps with them and plan alternate routes if they have to come home or go to a safe place. If you have kids at school, you will want to plan routes to get them from school if they do not drive to school. If you have high school age drivers, you will want to plan routes for them to get home or a safe place. Make sure they practice these routes and are comfortable driving other roads (such as gravel roads) besides the main roads.

As you can see, steps 2, 3 and 4 are very much the same just concentrating on going from local areas to state/regional areas. Having current maps is very important. In Iowa, we can pick up new state maps from any welcome center in the state. I also get current maps of surrounding states when I can. An atlas can be very beneficial in you can not stay in the state or region. I make sure to update my maps at least once a year in case roads become closed or new one are added. Many people have a GPS and that is fine, but they can fail and are programmed for the main roads. I would not rely on them alone.

The most important part in this is making sure your family understands and memorizes the plans.  In an emergency evacuation, plans can be forgotten so making sure everyone knows, understands, practices, and memorizes the plans is crucial. I am not sure you can practice this enough! Practice with your kids about where they are to meet on the property and to wait for everyone to join them. Practice driving the alternate routes and how long it would take you to drive them. Practice driving them at a slower speed in case you would need to do so to save fuel or weather conditions.

In the next Preparedness on the Cheap, I will talk about what to have ready, bring, and be aware of in case of evacuation. Although I plan to stay home no matter what, being ready to leave home at a moment's notice is very important. I would be ignorant to dismiss that possibility and not be ready for it.

Thanks for reading!
The Self Sufficient HomeAcre


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