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Are you ready to evacuate your home in 5 minutes?

How long do these homeowners have to evacuate their home before the flames hit the house, and crowded exit roads are moving too slowly, or are blocked by downed trees and flames? We all hope that we won’t have to face a situation like this, but for peace of mind, we should be prepared and ready. Just in case.


By Byron Clark

The current fire storms that have beset the once great State of California have given me pause. This personally has impacted my family and by proxy, me. There is a piece of property that has been in my family for well over one hundred years that was in the path of the fire.

There are currently two homes that were in the path of the fire. As of this writing both homes are still intact but the property has burned. Many memories throughout my life are of the people that were and still are there. Both of my cousins were forced to evacuate with less than fifteen minutes notice.

Fifteen minutes may seem like a long time but when fear and panic take hold it is not nearly enough time to gather and pack essentials. This is what I am going to write about.

Life is tenuous at best and everything can change in a moment. I will spare the possibilities and focus just on evacuation. This will be generic to a point but hopefully give thought to possibilities.

During an emergency we as humans become stressed and quickly lose fine motor skills and are left with gross motor skills. This is a product of fight or flight. Instead of waiting and when faced with an emergency and under stress, take the time to examine your life and needs. Pre-stage ALL requirements.

Make a checklist and after you have completed this list start over. Make two columns one titled NEED and the other titled WANT. The purpose is to stage the needed items and lessen the load to expedite the speed for evacuation.

One of the first considerations is your physical capabilities. It does you no good to pack a large back pack with one hundred pounds of emergency gear if you lack the ability to lift and carry it.

Take stock of your life. First and foremost is your insurance papers. If you are a homeowner then your insurance policy. If you are a renter then your renters insurance. Your mortgage paperwork. Your auto insurance paperwork. Be sure to include your healthcare insurance. Everything mentioned so far can be copies. If you have vehicles, then include the registration or ownership paperwork. It is a very real possibility that the family will choose to leave in one vehicle and leave the others. You will want proof of ownership for loss or damage claims.

A waterproof pouch should be used for this. Additionally a list of creditors and contact information as well as current bills should be included. Next should be spare chargers for phones, both for the vehicle and for wherever you go for the evacuation. You want to be able to contact family and friends to let them know you are safe and to check on them as well. This means you should have a contacts list with your paperwork. Most people have this on their phone but what if you lose or forget your phone and have to use another phone? Wouldn’t it be better to have the numbers available instead of causing more panic and trying to remember the phone number?

If you live in a danger zone or near a danger zone of fires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, or even tsunamis then preparation while calm is essential. You might want to have a chat with your doctor and request an official documentation of any and all diagnosis of any and all medical maladies along with another prescription order. Then every time you fill the prescription you put it with your bug out and take out the older prescription. That way if you have to evacuate you do not have to worry about forgetting any medication. Simply rotate the prescriptions.

Being a retired LEO I realize the very real need for quality flashlights. They can be used to not only light your path but if need be also as a signal device. Be sure to have at least one light for each anticipated person in your party as well as spare batteries or chargers.

A small first aid kit might be a part of your plan. Simple stuff like bandaids and Neosporin might be nice. Anything above that is only useful if you are trained in the use of it.

Your bug out bag bag does not need to be very big and should not weigh over twenty pounds. Mine carries everything mentioned along with three pairs of socks, three pairs of underwear, one pair of pants, three T shirts, a bar of soap, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, and a wool sweater. I have it packed and ready locked in my safe. I can grab it, a weapon, a jacket, raincoat, shoes and a spare pair of boots and be in my truck in well under five minutes. My bag weighs 17.6 pounds and my wife’s is just over 18. Both are packed and staged in the safe. The only reason that they are in the safe is that both contain sensitive personal information. Otherwise both can be readied near the door you will leave from.

Do not forget both energy bars and water. The very least amount of water is two bottles per person but that can and will vary. Depending upon the distance that needs to be covered to get to safety, current weather conditions, and the nature of the disaster you may want or need substantially more water.

My truck is the vehicle of choice for evacuation. I have certain things already in the truck. I keep two shovels, a sharpened axe, lots of rope, road flares, a fire extinguisher, and multiple pairs of gloves.

If time permits I have several plastic tubs in the garage with camping gear. Sleeping bags, stoves, camp chairs, water purification filters, as well as other niceties that can be grabbed.

While on this subject it should be mentioned that since you most likely will be in very close proximity with many other people we should give serious thought to self-defense. Depending upon the situation (as in riots) there may be weapons confiscation. You should keep multiple knives or weapons on your person, in your gear, and especially in and around your vehicle.

As you are making your list do not forget family photos. You have them framed and displayed for a reason. You do not want to lose them. You can have them scanned and digitized then have a disk made that you can place with your important papers in your bug out bag.

Also you might want to include at least two rolls of toilet paper per person, a couple rolls of paper towels, a hand towel, and a bath towel for each person. Also some wooden matches in case you need to start a fire.


Are you ready to evacuate your home in 5 minutes?


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