Deciding when to get out of Dodge and bug-out of your current location is one of the most difficult decisions that you’ll have to make during an emergency, disaster or crisis. If you are waiting for a crisis to occur before you make a plan of egress, then you’ll likely experience high levels of stress when the time comes. Tess Pennington discusses action planning for evacuating your primary location and things to look for that should provide clues of how serious the emergency is perceived to be in When to Bug Out: Knowing the Signs:
Waiting until an evacuation order is issued is considered too late for many people who consider themselves prepared.Â Knowing the signs and acting on them is the key to bugging out at the best time.Â If a person knows what to look for, they can prepare to leave ahead of the hoard of evacuees.
Some signs include:
-When people begin buying emergency food and water supplies.
-Hearing the news sources talking about a possible threat is the time to begin preparing to leave.
-Seeing long lines at the bank where people are withdrawing money is a sign that something is up.
-Long gas lines is also an indicator of people beginning to prepare for a possible evacuation.
-Increased military and police presence in the streets and the community.
-Long lines at home improvement stores from poeple trying to buy supplies to prepare homes forÂ disasters, buying generator needs, etc.
If a person is already prepared for such a disaster, they will not have to wait in lines full of stressed out people, not have to fight their way through a grocery store or get into a possible altercation trying to fill their cars with gas.Â In times of crises, many are not prepared, and the stress levels are increased exorbitantly.Â Everyone has one thing on their mind – getting supplies and getting out.Â If a person already has their supplies in order, getting out ahead of everyone will put them at a greater advantage.
As a resident of Dallas, TX, I saw first hand the refugees, as they were called, after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. A majority of the people coming out of NO into Dallas did not have anywhere to go once they got into the city. They had no food, no reserve cash and no bug-out location where they could stay with family and friends.
A month later I saw first hand the traffic jams coming in from Houston when Hurricane Rita. It was literally a 175 mile long traffic jam, as millions tried to evacuate all at once. Gas stations along I-45 were out of gas, food and water. Emergency responders, also stuck in traffic, were unable to respond to accidents and violent crimes that were reported along the escape route to Dallas. The drive from Houston to Dallas normally take about 3 to 4 hours — during Rita, that drive was 10 – 15 hours.
Having moved to Houston in 2008, I experienced the other side of the disaster. Complete loss of power for 20 days, all grocery stores empty and unable to stock their shelves due to supply line cuts, empty gas stations, and a contaminated water system. It was surprising to learn that many did not have simple basics like clean water and even a two day supply of food. Again, those who evacuated were trapped in traffic for 10+ hours trying to get out along major arteries.
The amazing thing about the hurricane evacuations described above, is that I would consider them to have been mild emergencies, in that the people knew days in advance they were coming and emergency responders had time to plan the evacuations down to zones which would evacuate at certain times. So, one could argue that it was a coordinated emergency with local and state officials and personnel on-site to assist.
The two most important things I came away with in these emergencies is:
- Being prepared with reserve food, water, medical kits, gasoline and physical money (not an ATM card) can be a life saver
- Having an evacuation plan is absolutely essential
Point one is pretty clear cut, and if you have that one covered, then you should move on to point two, having a plan.
While thousands of panicked neighbors are spending hours navigating local traffic to get to the grocery stores trying to acquire food & water, pulling money out of their bank, gassing up their cars, and organizing the packing of their vehicles with personal belongings, if you have an evacuation plan you can be out of Dodge within an hour or two.
Though I am not sure of the exact statistic, as all emergencies are a bit different, I would venture to guess that every minute you waste in an emergency costs you many more minutes sitting in traffic as you try to bug out.
Be ready for anything, that’s all I’m saying.
Are You Ready Series: 72 Hour Kits discusses items you should consider putting in a 3 day emergency evac pack.
Emergency Items: What Will Disappear First provides lists of items that you’ll see fly of the store shelves at the first signs of trouble.
Survival Priorities: The Rule of Three provides insight into the mind set of what a prepper should be thinking about before and during an emergency.
Emergency Exits: Getting to a Safe Place in a Crisis provides some ideas on preparations to make before an emergency hits.
As a follow-up, I’ll also direct readers to my article on Hyperinflationary Depression. Though the occurence of such an event may be unlikely, knowing the signs can be a life saver – literally.