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Need to evacuate due to Hurricanes or Wildfires? Here’s what to take!

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I’m watching many friends in Georgia and South Carolina, and even in Tennessee discussing the possibility of bugging out in order to avoid the tumult of Hurricane Iris, (or the fires to the west) and I’m watching a fair amount of panicked discussion about what to bring.

Here’s the deal: the more you try to take with you, the more chances there are that something urgent may be left behind, and since evacuees sometimes have no idea how long they’ll be away from home — or what sort of devastation may await them upon their return — consider that it might be best to pare down your take-alongs to the veriest essentials or (at the very least) pack the essentials before anything else. 

BUT FIRST! BEFORE YOU START PACKING:

Fill a cup with water and put it in your freezer. When the water has frozen, place a penny on top of the ice. When you return home you’ll be able to tell if the food has defrosted and must be thrown out, or has remained stable by where the penny is. If it’s still on top, you can eat that stuff. If it’s sunken to the bottom (or even halfway) you’ll have to throw that stuff out.

NOW, PACK THIS STUFF FIRST:

  1. 1) Birth Certificates, Licenses, Passports, Social Security cards and other essential ID: I see people saying “make copies” but copies won’t help you when the rubber meets the road and you need a birth certificate with a seal on it. Put them in a big ziploc bag for their protection and take them with you. If, God forbid, your house is flooded or worse, this will prevent you having to go through the hassle of replacing these items, especially if hundreds (or thousands) of others will be creating long lines and wait-times.
  • 2) Credit Cards, Bank Cards and Cash: Even if you store them away normally, take the cards. You never know what’s coming. And pull as much cash as you feel safe carrying. And divvy that up between family members so everyone has some money on them.
  • 3) Eyeglasses and reading glasses: even if you hate them and think you’ll get by with your contacts. Take your glasses. Better with than without.
  • 4) Medication and any prescriptions if they are near running out: If you end up in another state, you may still not be able to renew a prescription easily, but you might be able to get a few days “emergency supply.” As a friend has said, “Nobody wants to see you going off meds ‘cold turkey'”. Also, don’t forget your aspirin or over-the-counter pain reliever and (if you have it) imodium or something else to help an upset stomach. If you have Peppermint Altoids, bring them along. They’re made with real peppermint oil and can settle indigestion quickly.
  • 5) Laptop, tablets, phone, ereaders, chargers and memory sticks: backed up with your photos and essential legal/banking documents —  especially if you keep that stuff on desktop.
  • 6) Flashlights, glo-sticks, matches. The darkness makes everything worse.
  • 7) 3 Days worth of clothes (more underwear and socks) and your most practical shoes: 3 days worth of clothes, rolled tightly, won’t take up much room.
  • 8) Hygiene products and yes, toilet paper:  Feminine, masculine, baby wipes, diapers, of course, toothpaste and toothbrushes, hairbrushes, elastic hair ties, bandaids and neosporin, and deodorant. Being smelly makes everything worse, too.
  • 9) Non-Perishable Snacks and a can and bottle opener: Price gouging is a sad, budget-busting reality and with so many people evacuating, food might become an issue. Bring as much of your handy food as is realistically possible with the room you have. Pop those bags of popcorn and take them with you. Hard boil all of your eggs and take them too. Make nutbutter and jelly sandwiches; take your jerky, granola bars, cans of tuna and sardines, and your pretzels or crackers, and some plastic utensils and paper plates and a few rolls of paper towels. Take your fresh veggies if they’re snackable. Put your boxed cereal in ziplock bags so they take up less room. A big thermos of coffee (add the milk if that’s what you do) will be a treasure at some point. Also water, of course. Bring 5 gallons if you can. It’s too late to order something like this although you might want to have it on hand in the future.

BEFORE YOU LEAVE:

Go check that cup of water in your freezer and if it’s frozen, put that penny in place.

Unplug all of your appliances and anything that can be fried by power surges or water damage, EXCEPT YOUR FRIDGE AND/OR FREEZER.

Secure your lawn furniture and whatever is outside that can blow around and damage things or harm people. Just bring it inside, if you can.

Check your fluid levels in the car and the air in your tires. If you have old-fashioned maps around, take them, just in case you can’t use your phone’s gps. Make sure you have your spare, your jumper cables, and your jack. If you have room for a blanket or a tarp, put that in there. Pillows are nice too but they take up a lot of room.

Needless to say, this is by no means an exhaustive list, and if you have other suggestions, please share them in the comboxes. I just want to see everyone do as well as they can in what looks to be some difficult days ahead. God bless us all!

One last thing: If you have a favorite prayerbook or bible, and you have room, take them along. And if you want to pray but can’t think of any words, we’ve got you covered:

A prayer for sheltering from storms

A prayer for those suffering through natural disasters

Lord, bless and protect all in the path of these mighty floods and fires

And a great video to remind us all that we are not alone.

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