My thoughts on If and When to evacuate

Jerry D Young

Well-Known Member
Trusted Member
Evacuate or Shelter-in-Place

Staying in place has many merits to it in most situations. There are some situations, however, that call for getting away from the problem.

Where to go if you have to go? There are probably as many answers as there are people to ask them. In my opinion, there are some basic guidelines that can be followed to make things easier. The main thing is to have a workable, flexible plan. Break it down by various possibilities. From simply leaving your house or apartment for a few hours during a criminal hostage situation, to a complete, permanent relocation.

Most of the things you will do are simply different in scope or magnitude. A couple of bucks for a cup of coffee at the nearest fast food place while you wait for the police to get the criminal to surrender, to arrangements for a semi to take all your possessions to a new home hundreds or thousands of miles from where you are now.

Though it is not 100% necessary to have already made connections at whatever destination you plan for the different scenarios, it is much better to have both ends covered before it becomes necessary to evacuate, especially if it is a hurried one.

If the situation is quite localized, grabbing your in-town/local kit and going to the nearest shelter, if one is available, the house of a family member or friend, or just to a nearby motel could be adequate.

This basic bag should have everything you need for something this simple. Mostly some money for the accommodations, if needed, and for food, and a calling card and contact numbers so you can call people and let them know you are all right and what the situation is. You should have several different places picked out in the local area, just in case the situation encompasses one or more of them, in addition to your own place. If services are still available, and you have some money to provide the necessities, you are set. Just arrange ahead of time with the people at the various locations to take you in temporarily. Perhaps with a mutual aid agreement. You will take them in if their area is disrupted for some reason.

Again, if the situation is more widespread, the arrangements are the same, you just must travel further away and/or have more equipment and supplies with you. If the relocation will be longer you need more things. Food, water, and a change or two of clothing. If you have to travel some distance, then a decent vehicle in good shape should be considered. As in the localized situation, try to have arrangements with family, friends, or establishments to take you in.

If that is not possible, include shelter means in the equipment you take with you. Again, have a contact list to notify people as necessary as to your whereabouts and condition. Since it is likely that not everyone will be together when the bug out takes place, having a schedule to contact each of the various locations that you have arrangements with to see if a family member showed up at a different location than the one you could get to is in order. Some of these might just be rendezvous points, to get everyone together to head for a different destination.

Another way to work it is to have locations listed in order. If not everyone shows up at the first one within a certain timeframe, then head for the next one. Do so until everyone shows up. If a person knows they cannot get to the first one within the time frame they head for the second automatically and try to contact the first.

Even if everyone must head in a different direction, they should be able to at least reach points that have contact with the other places slated as destinations. It is key to have a plan in place, and run drills so everyone knows what to do.

Having multiple locations to which to go can complicate things, but I feel that it is worth it. A case of you-just-cannot-get-there-from-here is too likely not to have alternatives. Everyone should know what they are, where they are, and how to access them.

The further you might need to go, the longer should be the timeframes to wait for stragglers, but you can’t wait forever to head for the final destination. This type of plan will work for just about any scale of situation. The network or web is just larger and larger, as situations demand.

Children should have two or three specific places to wait for adults to get to them, and the school (or daycare, or soccer coach, babysitter, or whatever) should know that if something happens, that is what you want the children to do. (Usually better to stay at the school, but that might not always be possible.)

If the school takes them to some specific point, it will be broadcast on local radio. Make sure you have a radio available. All children, no matter how young, should have a list of contact numbers on them, preferably a laminated card that authorities can use to reach the parents or designated guardian. Children can be taught to approach authority figures, ask for help, and show the card.

With rendezvous points and final destinations set for various scenarios, equipment and supplies kept packed and ready, means to travel, and a well-practiced plan, a required evacuation for a forecast hurricane, or a get-out-as-fast-as-you-can disaster during a weekday, can be handled with as little stress and as much safety and efficiency as possible.

As always, this is my personal opinion and should not be taken as the last word.

Evacuating is a choice. Not an absolute. You only leave home when things will be much worse there than if you leave. And the concept includes a plan. A flexible plan. You do not just head for the hills at the first sign of trouble and expect to live there for months or years. Yes, there are some that do plan to do just that. However, they are not representative of Preppers in general. Most Preppers have thought the situation through logically and come to the same conclusion I have. Stay until you know it is better to leave, which might be immediately, or six months into a financial meltdown, and then leave as quickly as you can.

An evacuation can be rather painless and uneventful. At least it can if you are prepared. Otherwise it can be just a panicked flight, with just the clothes on your back. Maybe not even that, depending on what, if anything, you wear to bed. It can be a temporary or permanent relocation, depending on circumstances. It can be an immediate decision carried out quickly, or an organized, full scale, long term process.

In my opinion, though evacuation is not usually the best response in most disaster situations, when it is required, it is often critical to be able to do so efficiently. Not to mention, it is a favorite response of the authorities, whether it is the best choice for specific individuals or not. If you are ordered to go, you go, whether you want to or not, or risk serious legal consequences.

Evacuation Trigger Events

It can be very difficult deciding when to evacuate if evacuation is one of the options in your plan to deal with a particular event that does occur.

Those that think taking off for any and all events, especially just going into the ‘wilderness’ to survive until whatever it is has ended, will be very surprised to find that there are many others of like mind, and they will be fighting for every resource they need, and will likely be needing to protect themselves and their gear and supplies from others around them that do not have what they need. Unfortunately for the eventual recovery, this number is fairly high. It is unlikely they will be able to survive and be of any help in rebuilding society and civilization after the event ends.

And even those that do have an alternative place to which they can go, might be better off staying at home in the majority of situations. You might not be able to go, due to blocked roads, government edicts, non-functional transportation, and many other reasons. So, having what you need to shelter-in-place is important.

Now some people simply cannot have what they need to survive well where they live, and evacuation may have to be a more likely choice for them than for those that can have a good set of gear and supplies at home. (Note: Not all of these should be inside the home. Have some cached on the property and other places nearby in case the house is destroyed, or you cannot access the items inside for some reason.

However, if you can do what is necessary to shelter in place, that is far more often than not the best choice in the majority of situations. Not all, of course. There are some that call for immediate or staged evacuation. And sometime you do not have much choice, even if you are prepared and would be just fine staying, but the government orders a mandatory evacuation. If you stay, and they do find you during or after the event, you could wind up in trouble, the least of which would be placed into one of the FEMA camps or whatever variation they have for that situation. That is not a good place to be.

Having access to all of your gear and supplies, even if you have to camp out in your yard due to the house not being safe, is much better than taking just a car load (and maybe trailer), much less just a back pack, with what can be carried in them. You will never have many of the resources that you will likely need at the time, if you are not at home.

So, you have decided that you will monitor the local, state, national, international, and space happenings so you will know at the earliest possible moment if a situation is developing or becoming likely. There are things which will happen where you have no warning at all. Sometimes that makes the decision easier, and sometimes harder. And as you continue to monitor, by whatever means you have available, you continue at home, watching for any of your triggers that would prompt you to leave.

I am a bit reluctant to say it, but you cannot always depend on the local authorities to decide on a timely basis when to order an evacuation. They have a tendency to wait & see, many times waiting too long to order an evacuation, mostly due to financial concerns and hoping to avoid a panic, and it then becomes almost impossible for many people to evacuate because of so many trying at one time.

Watching for your triggers for whichever event is about to take place and then acting on them will put you well ahead of the rest of the fleeing masses. In evacuations it is almost always better to be in the lead than lagging behind. For many reasons.

The triggers will be different for just about everyone. They will depend on your prepping ability and capabilities, environmental factors, weather factors, and so on. Since the triggers will be different for different types of disasters and events, a good way to decide on triggers is to determine what your community or area is subject to, and look at them with a critical eye. Certain things will pop out as a warning that you do not want to be around when that happens.

Here are some possible triggers (some mine, some from other people).

Some examples of events and possible bug-out triggers:

1) Major economic event
a) A bank holiday is declared
b) Withdrawals are limited
c) The stock market is closed
d) The DOW reaches a set number you have decided is the danger point
e) The rest of the world drops the dollar for another reserve.

2) Major and widespread Social unrest
a) Looting & riots are spreading outside their normal boundaries
b) General crime and lawlessness gets more prevalent and more violent

3) Major and dangerous weather events
a) Approaching hurricanes (usually Cat 3 and higher)
b) Tornado likelihood and/or watch or alert
c) Forecast of extreme cold and winds
d) Any extreme or abnormal weather activates

4) Regional/national/international Events
a) Martial Law is declared
b) Travel restrictions are instituted
c) Internet up & down often or down for long periods
d) Trucking and/or rail traffic stopped moving
e) Brown-outs or Rolling/accidental blackouts

5) Local events
a) Local power outage past a set number of days
b) Curfews ordered and enforced
c) Boil water or do not drink water order
d) Activation of the local EOC

These are just a few examples. Look at what is most likely to occur in your area and set up triggers for them. After that you can continue to brainstorm other events that might occur.

Just my opinion.
Day To Day Preppers