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Run Practice Drills! (emergencies and evacuations preparedness)

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posted on May, 17 2014 @ 07:09 PM

I wanted to share my experience with you all while it’s still fresh, I hope that you might learn from it, and that I might learn more from it via your input! I would greatly appreciate it if you would please keep any criticism constructive, I’ll be pointing out some of the flaws I noticed myself, and I hope that you will do so with kindness

There are a number of wildfires burning in San Diego county and aboard Camp Pendleton, and have been for the last few days. Most of them were quite far from me, but by yesterday more had sprung up and it resulted in my neighborhood being situated in the middle of three separate fires (they were still some distance away, but the shifting winds were making them more of a concern). We were told that we should be prepared to evacuate.

I had on the first day of fires already gathered our things into a sort of staging area by the door, so that all we had to do was load the cars. By the time the closer fires sprang up, I was already ready to go.

This is a view from my street about 30 minutes before they ordered evacuation:

Since we had two cars to work with, I naturally OVER-packed. This was my first big mistake. I did my packing with the ASSumption that my husband would be able to get home to assist with evacuating. Had the fires shifted in the wrong direction, his only route home would have been cut off. However, I did have the sense to separate our things into two piles. One was composed of the essentials (and a couple of things that are neither essential nor sentimental, but we don’t leave home without!); the other was all the sentimental stuff I hoped to also bring. We ended up loading the essentials in my car; the stuff we could abandon was in his car (in case for whatever reason we had to leave his car).

What I learned from this part is that I need to completely rethink HOW I pack. I will be breaking our “family gear” down into two separate kits. My husband’s will live in his trunk (which I’ve been meaning to get around to anyway). Mine will live in my trunk. Both kits will contain typical BOB gear: 3 days of food, water, hygiene, clothes, meds, etc. The parts of the kits that don’t get to live in the car will be kept in our staging area.

I need to make a physical checklist that we can run through as we are leaving in the event of another evacuation. For example, things that my husband thought of that I did not included: closing all the windows and removing the sticker from our window that lets firefighters know we have dogs inside that need to be saved. I wouldn’t have ever thought of that, and in a dire situation that sticker could have cost someone his or her life (because we obviously evacuated WITH our pets). That really made a huge impact on me that I didn’t think of it.

I was really proud of my kid. We called it a fire drill, and she was actively involved in packing her own bag and doing exactly what I asked of her right when I asked. Her only concern was that the hotel we went to should have continental breakfast! Lol

Social media was an invaluable tool for me to keep tabs on the fire, as I don’t have cable. I did have my emergency radio on an AM channel, but I learned that it was not very helpful to me because we are located on the military base and press access is limited. I also accessed live feeds online to keep tabs on things, but again this was limited. Another concern that I have is that this base has emergency text alerts, which I am signed up for. I never received a single text alert; I will be following up on this problem for sure!

One last thing: I was able to get everything and everyone (including our dogs) loaded and ready to go in about 12 minutes. Which I find unacceptable. I want to get that time down to 5 minutes, and I believe I can accomplish that by creating a proper trunk kit of gear, and running through this scenario again as a drill.

So, that was my experience. I am safely back home now, which is thankfully unharmed. I know a lot of you are probably super prepared for just about anything, so this may all be just common sense for you. I just want to make sure that everyone understands that having the gear and reading online what to do in certain situations doesn’t necessarily mean you are ready. I strongly recommend that everyone practice drills, there is always room for improvement.

Here is a link about the fires.

PS. These pics look gigantic in the preview, but I don't know how to resize them... sorry!

posted on May, 18 2014 @ 05:56 PM
Glad to hear that everyone in your family is safe, hopefully others were as prepared as you were.

Having an evacuation and disaster plan are very important. It's sad that it usually takes an emergency for us to finally understand that and take it seriously.

Too much of that "oh, i'm sure it'll never happen to me" mentality. We're all guilty of it to an extent

posted on May, 18 2014 @ 09:42 PM

edit on 18-5-2014 by LadySkadi because: redundate

posted on May, 19 2014 @ 08:57 AM
Great post. Currently, each of our trucks has a BOB/GHB, because you never know where you are going to be when something happens, but chances are, one of the trucks will be nearby.

I do like the idea of having other items staged though. Something we really never considered since the plan was always to bug in, but not a bad idea at all.

posted on May, 19 2014 @ 10:31 AM
a reply to: ArnoldNonymous

I think that for the most part people were prepared, which makes me really happy. Sadly, there are a few who weren't. As an example, one woman found herself sitting in a parking lot with two young children, no supplies, and no idea where to even go. She reached out to the community, who helped and advised her. That really bothered me though, because I think everyone should be at least somewhat prepared for almost anything, but especially so when you have children! I think it is important that we all take responsibility for ourselves, and ensuring that we can take care of ourselves in an emergency. It is heartwarming though to see the way that this community came together. Donations began almost immediately for the evacuees, as did donations of food and water for those brave folks out there fighting the fires! It gives me hope that people have such kindness inside, I just wish it didn't take an emergency for that to shine through!

a reply to: Gazrok

Thanks for your reply! I have always 'prepped' with the idea of bugging in. With kids and dogs it just makes more sense. That mentality worked well for me when we were on the east coast, where the most probable natural disaster was a hurricane. I have now learned that you have to adapt to your location, and since I live where wildfires and earthquakes are most probable, I definitely need to adjust my way of thinking to a more mobile one.

posted on May, 20 2014 @ 12:00 PM
We are being threatened today with fire too. After living through one major wildfire in the 90's and working n the relief end of things, it is vital to be able to leave quickly. Aside from the obvious BOB and other necessary items, the thing that stuck me most is how many memories people lost. As I led folks who had lost everything through the center we had set up, the most heart wrenching and missed items were the irreplacables. I found a teddy bear for one elderly lady and it meant more to her than all of the clothing and food we could possibly replace. Don't forget to grab that baby book, or a photo album, if you have time and space of course.

The other thing that surprised me is how many people left their homes without their prescriptions and needed medicines. Those items were not easily replaced and many people suffered because of it. I believe a few folks even ended up in the hospital. If you are evacuated, please don't expect to see your home again. It sounds harsh, but it may save just a touch of heartache and medical issues later.

We spent the late evening last night making similar piles to the OP. Luckily, the gear is already in place and it gave me the chance to pull out the baby books and family bibles and old photos. I can buy more clothes for my kids, but I can never replace their grandparents wedding photo.

posted on May, 21 2014 @ 02:30 PM
a reply to: woodsmom

I agree completely! Once I had the essentials together, I went around the house making decisions about the sentimental stuff. I said to myself "What is so important to you that you would be broken hearted should you never see it again" and also "what do you want to make sure is passed down for future generations"

I ended up with three levels of sentimental, lol. One was the things that were special to me, but that I could live without. The next level was "this stuff is going in the car with us if at all possible, but I'll leave it if I have to" and the last (also smallest pile) was "I'd carry this in even with my kid and dogs in my arms" LOL. That pile was actually only three photos that I folded and put in my pocket.

I read your earlier post about the fire near your home, but couldn't reply as I was on my phone. Hope things are safe and well on your end!

posted on May, 21 2014 @ 02:43 PM
a reply to: MojaveBurning

Yeah, that's about where I am now. The absolute necessities are situated, and there are several piles around the house of varying importance. You would think it would be harder, but really there are only a few things that can't be replaced, ever. Anything else can be walked away from. It just goes to show though that a little preparation can go a very long way. I know people who went voluntarily closer to the fire to go camping, and another family even closer to the fire who is just now packing up. I started Sunday night and I'm still sorting piles. I guess this might be easier if I was busy though. I'm just happy for ATS today and all of the friends that I have made here, and the distraction that it can provide.

posted on Jun, 5 2014 @ 12:06 PM
My family practices a "disaster drill" every month. In May, it was a fire drill. In April, we did a tornado drill (and had to take cover "for real" twice that month).

Our children, whose ages range from teenage to toddler, are good enough at evac drills that they are in charge of packing the kitchen. They pack all the daily use items that we'd still want in a bug out situation. Stuff like dry cereal and pantry snacks are comfort food for a stop-and-go car ride. Lunch meat will be fine at room temperature for a couple of hours. They also know to grab kitchen tools like knives pots & pans, etc.

Drills we've run:
terror activity/mass panic
nuclear detonation upwind in the nearest urban area
no water supply

In our vehicles, we carry supplies for summer: beach towels for everyone, hats, sunbloc, and insect spray. Also water and food supplies as well as first aid and roadside repair kits.

posted on Jun, 5 2014 @ 02:06 PM
Agree with you OP on the time. Sometimes you've got time to grab all that stuff and 12 minutes is pretty good. But if you have a tornado coming out of nowhere you're lucky to have a minute or two. I would caution you on the food stored in your BOB since you live in a state that can get very hot so no canned foods stored in the car. But good on you for practicing. Too many people think they'll just grab and go. I was living in a small coastal town and the tsunami siren went off. I only managed to get out with my meds and dogs. It turned out to be a special drill which wasn't on the regular scheduled day and it went off for a long period of time. I learned later it was posted in the newspaper but I didn't subscribe so I was unaware. I had not practiced and it taught me a valuable lesson. The other thing I realized was in my panic to try and get to high land quickly, I didn't even have a proper route planned thinking I would just go "up" not knowing many of the streets were dead ends and cul de sacs. It was quite the frenzy and later fortunately I could laugh about it. Now I'm more prepared but still not perfect.

posted on Jun, 6 2014 @ 05:19 PM
a reply to: StoutBroux

Thank you for adding your experience here!

For the food in my car, it's things like granola bars (which are rotated pretty frequently because seems like we're always in the car and hungry! lol). I also have a few MREs, just because they were free. I like to keep single packets of nuts in there too, just because they're quick and last a decent bit of time.

I especially like the point you made about the importance of having a route planned. This is something I need to work on. Where I live, it's basically "NORTH" or "SOUTH" on the freeway for a good distance. I'm not familiar enough with the backroads to improvise. I do keep a road map in the car, and I can read it, lol, but I think it would be much much better to plan a route before hand. I live near a nuclear generating station, so I have thought about what I would do in an emergency involving that, and right now it mostly consists of "go north as fast as possible, and then reassess and figure out what next". Which I know isn't a very good plan. I would like to do more research on nuclear stations, radiation effects, wind patterns for my area, etc, so that I can get an idea of what to do after I've gotten out of the initial severe danger zone (assuming something like a slow leak or whatever where I would actually have TIME to get away of course).

Sorry for rambling, lol, your reply got me thinking all over again about all the things I could improve in my level of preparedness!

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