It starts like a normal day, then a report of a wildfire comes in. In less than 12 hours, it grows to thousands of acres in size and forces people to evacuate their homes. Shelters are set up and people’s property and possessions are at risk.
What do you do? Do you grab your bug out bag? Do you even have one? What’s your plan? Perhaps most importantly, where will you go when you’re forced to leave your home?
Your destination is one of the most important parts of your escape plan in case of disaster. Where you end up will dictate your long-term plan for surviving and thriving when a disaster hits.
When selecting your destination for evacuation in a disaster, take these factors into account.
1. Is it safe?
It makes no sense to move to an area that could eventually be subject to an evacuation order.
2. Does it provide access to food and water?
You will eventually need to restock your supplies. Consider the location’s proximity to fuel, food, water and other supplies.
3. Does it allow you to go to work?
You’ll probably have to go back to your nine to five once you set up shop. Unless told otherwise by your employer, it’s probably good to keep performing your daily life as much as possible unless of course your place of employment is subject to an evacuation or has been damaged or destroyed.
4. If you have kids, does it allow them access to school?
Just because there’s a forest fire doesn’t mean school’s out. Be sure to check with your district to learn about class delays or cancellations all together.
5. How easy is it to get to and how would you get there?
Are you travelling there by land? Water? Air? Have a primary and secondary route for your destination as roads can be disrupted by wildfire activity.
For many people, the destination after evacuation could be a shelter set up by the local government or by a nonprofit such as the Red Cross. These can provide you with a place to sleep as well as nourishment and basic medical services. However, if you have a destination set up already, go there.
Moving to a familiar place will provide you and your party with stress relief as it provides a set of knowns in what can be a chaotic situation. It could be a friend or relative’s house, a cabin or other spot.
In such cases, make sure to plan ahead and know what to do when the time comes to leave. If you’re travelling with your family, make sure you know how to get them to your destination safely. If you’re destination is a friend or family member’s home talk with them beforehand about what your evacuation plan is.
Seasonal disasters such as wildfires and hurricanes allow you a relative grace period to solidify a plan and properly set things up. Everything will come down to your ability to execute when the time comes to move.