Fifteen Minutes. Grab and Go.

Release Date

A sign points the way for the Hurricane evacuation route in Texas.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s ever rushed out of the house without my keys or wallet. I’m also sure that I won’t be the last one.

When I’m trying to leave the house for the day, I’m constantly running through a checklist of all the things I need to bring—and sometimes there are very important things that accidentally get left behind. (My keys and my wallet are two very common ones.)

But, with the job I have, sometimes I think about what I would have to do if I weren’t packing my backpack just for an 8-hour workday. What if I were packing my bag for an indefinite trip? What else would I have to remember? What else could I possibly forget?

I know a lot of things I frequently forget—my keys, my medications, my wallet, my important documents—are things that I would really need in case of an emergency that kept me from being able to come back to my apartment for a long period of time. I’d have to have them.

Evacuations can happen without warning. They can happen at any time due to any number of events. From wildfires to floods. From earthquakes to something man-made. It’s scary, but it can happen—and it does. We’ve seen mandatory evacuation orders issued and reduced in Californian communities just this week, in an effort to protect people potentially impacted by flooding from damaged Oroville Dam spillways.

Here are some things to know in case of any potential evacuation.

Keep at least half a tank of gas in your car at all times. During a severe weather event, gas stations could be experiencing outages or high traffic. It could take a long time to get to or find a gas station that is operational and when time is of the essence, every second counts. Having gas already in your car makes it easier to be able to leave.

Have a go-bag packed ahead of time. One of the things I’ve found to make my weekday mornings easier is having my backpack packed before I head to bed. The same principle can apply for evacuation supplies. Having a go-bag already packed with extra clothes suited for whatever weather conditions you could face (like with gloves and scarves for winter or with sunglasses for summer) makes it so there becomes one less thing to worry about.

Know your routes. If you’re evacuating in the event of something like a tsunami or hurricane, there may be designated routes for how to evacuate. Knowing these in advance will cut down the time it takes for you to navigate and leave.

Establish a communication plan. Leaving home in a hurry may lead to some confusion. It is helpful to designate one person—a family member, a friend, a coworker—out of town, who everyone knows to reach out to in case of an emergency. This person can help track who has or has not evacuated, and where they have gone in case of an emergency. Incorporating social media and texting into this plan can make it even easier.

I know that thinking about these things now isn’t exactly fun or easy. But being prepared for any of these circumstances can make a big difference—especially when you only have about fifteen minutes to grab your stuff and go.


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