We came back from a weekend vacation and immediately found out a major category 5 Hurricane was headed directly for us. We decided to put up shutters, secure our house and lawn, pack, stocked up on non-perishables, make travel plans,  clean and evacuate all within 48 hours! We have always stayed for hurricanes in the past,  so evacuating for this hurricane was a first, and it taught us some new lessons. If you are faced with an evacuation, or may have to evacuate in the future, these tips will lessen the confusion, keep you level-headed, and help you evacuate efficiently!

1) Prepare For a Natural Disaster Well Before It Ever Happens.

You have to make fast, split of the second decisions when you evacuate, and can make mistakes that way. So discuss beforehand and have a plan! For us, in Florida, it’s never a matter of IF it’s WHEN you will be faced with this decision.

Previously decided:

  1. What category storm we should evacuate for- We decided a 4 or higher
  2. What supplies you want to have on hand at your house – Buy then and stock up over time.
  3. Where you would go.
  4. What to bring with you if you lost everything.
  5. How you would secure your house. Example: Where to put the propane tanks etc, patio furniture etc.

2) Do Laundry.

This might be strange, but after years of dealing with hurricanes, having all the laundry done, with plenty of clothing, towels, and underwear is a significant stress relief. As soon as you know evacuating might be a possibility start doing the laundry! This way it will be easier to pack, and you can do it ahead of time in-between other tasks. When we came back from our trip I immediately started preparing. We didn’t know if we were going to stay or go yet, but I started doing that laundry.

3) Take Out Cash.

This is why we have a savings people, this is why! Evacuating is an emergency and a big one, and that is why you should have a savings in the case of an emergency. Go to the bank and take out at least $600 out in cash (or more if you have kids). This will be handy if you find that there are power outages further down the road, or if you come back home to no power. Mike and I always take out cash when we go on trips, thankfully this was one task we didn’t need to do because we already took out cash for our weekend trip we came back from.

4) Have an Evacuation Checklist of To Do’s and What to Bring.

Having a plan is one thing but putting it into practice was another, and it was eery. Before this hurricane, we had only talked about the worst case, and now we were actually preparing for it. The stress is unexplainable, but having that checklist and knowing what we were going to bring with us brought peace and kept us level-headed. Here is what we took:

  • Important paperwork: Example: Birth certificates, Social Security Cards, passports, ID’s. Insurance paperwork, some tax paperwork.
    • I just redid my filing system using Freedom Filers. I set it up in a way to make grabbing what I need for an evacuation or emergency easy. You can check out that video here!
  • Hard drives, and Memory Cards
  • Any expensive jewelry, pictures, or heirlooms that can fit in your car.
  • Pack for 2 weeks.  We both packed suitcases with enough clothing for 2 weeks. And we made sure to pack a variety… some nicer things, casual things, and even warmer clothing in case it was cooler where we went to, or had some winter things in case we lost everything. I was so glad we did this, we ended up using all the types of clothing!

5) Be Kind and Don’t Panic.

Panicking doesn’t help, you need to focus on what you need to do to prepare, and that’s it. Focus on the task at hand, and get the job done. You can either have a bad attitude or a good attitude. Either way, that storm or natural disaster is coming, so why not choose a good attitude.

6) Use the Slow Lane in Traffic When It’s Bumper to Bumper.

It was actually the fastest lane to be in when we were evacuating, we kept at a slow constant speed and stopped less in the slow lane than in the fast lane.

7) Have a Split Phone Charger in Your Car At All Times.

When you evacuate, each of you will need a phone charger for the car ride. You will hit spots on the road with low reception that will drain your battery further. This was our experience driving to get away. Our dying phones and no reception only added to the stress. Once we got the split charger, it all changed.

8) Use “off the beaten path” Gas Stations.

My mom gave us this tip and it worked! When were able to get out of the traffic for a bit on a side road we stopped at any gas station we came across. All of them had gas. As opposed to the Turnpike rest areas that were low or ran out of gas completely.

9) Know This Isn’t Forever.

During an evacuation, your whole world changes, from preparing to actually executing your evacuation. I can’t put words to the feeling, but the truth is that the horrible feelings it brings will not last. Even if your home is lost, you will rebuild, you will get your life back, things will go back to normal, and most importantly you and who you bring with you will be ok. Most of the time you will get your life back even sooner than expected. So know this major disruption in your life will pass, in the grand scheme of things it will only be a short time, and you will get your life back. Knowing this won’t be forever will help get you through.

10) Instead of Focusing On the Worst, Prepare for the Worst, and Then Hope for the Best.

Every time you worry, make your mind focus on a task that needs to be done and do it. Think of a plan and work it. But worrying will not solve or help anything. More often the best actually happens! I have seen this play out time and time again!

11) Come to The Realization that You Could Lose Everything and Be Ok With It.

This may sound harsh but it’s true. My husband, Mike, and I both came to this conclusion growing up in Florida with hurricanes. As long as we have each other and our loved ones we will gladly give up everything. This is a mindset we intentionally developed. The reality is most of us may never experience losing everything, but if you live where there are hurricanes, fires, or tornados, you are not exempt. Realize it could be you, and accept it.