Anyone who is into personal preparedness has go to have a contingency plan. A plan for what, you ask? Whatever happens. One of the best tools in your arsenal is the ability to get the heck out of dodge. There was a man at the World Trade Center by the name of Rick Rescorla. If you are not familiar with the man known as the “man who predicted 9/11,” you can go read about him later, because he is not the subject of this post, but I will say that I admire the man. He single handedly saved 2,700 lives on 9/11 by knowing when to get out, and he gave his own life in the effort.
I was watching a show about him on 9/11, and I was reminded of what happened to folks in the South Tower of the WTC on that day when they tried to evacuate after the first plane struck the North Tower: as they were trying to evacuate, the police herded them back into the building, claiming that the untouched South Tower was safe. They were performing an act called “shelter in place.” Many people returned to their offices, only to be killed when the second plane struck the South Tower 18 minutes later. Those who ignored the cops and left, lived to see another day.
Shelter in place is not put into motion for the benefit of the people being sheltered. Primarily, it benefits the people who are charged with controlling the disaster, who do not need large amounts of refugees underfoot, getting in the way of rescue efforts. Yes, there are times when it is safer to to stay put where all of your supplies are, but there are also times to run. It is up to you to determine when that is, and have a plan to do so. Remember that hesitating will mean you are going to be in the middle of the fleeing herd, or possibly trapped in the disaster area, instead of being safe somewhere else.
When it is time to go, go. Don’t wait, don’t dally, and don’t hesitate. If your instincts are telling you to go, then go. The key to an orderly evacuation, as opposed to a panicked flight is easy: preparation. The first thing is to have criteria that you will use to determine when you will go, and when you will stay. Make it flexible, because when that time comes, it may be an event that you have not planned for.
Evaluate the disasters that will force you to consider evacuating, and rate them according to warning time and risk- with the ratings of low, medium, and high. This is the same system that emergency professionals use:
For example: A fire in your house is Little warning, high risk. A hurricane in Florida’s interior is long warning time, medium risk, but on the coast it may be high risk. Once we do that, we come up with plans for evacuating or dealing with the emergency, based on the time we have to evacuate and the severity of the disaster.
For example, in the event of a break in to our home while we are sleeping, we have plans to “shelter in place” in the bedroom and call 911. Anyone who enters the bedroom gets shot. That works for us, because the police have an average 6 minute response time in my city, and I can hold out for 6 minutes with the two handguns we have in the bedroom. I don’t need to take the risk of clearing the house, I will let the cops do it for me.
On the other hand, we evacuate for any hurricane above class 3 that is due to hit in my area. Being 50 miles inland means that the risk is one I can bear in my location for a three or less.
Our evacuation plans vary. We have four plans, each one named for the amount of time we have to execute it. These plans are: 90 second, 9 minute, 90 minute, 9 hour. The next post will deal with evacuation plans. In the hurricane example I just gave you, we would activate the 9 hour plan (the 9 hour plan includes taking the time to board up windows). The last time we considered evacuating, I boarded up the windows and pre packed my vehicle when we were 5 days from landfall. My neighbors thought I was nuts. I was the only boarded up home in the neighborhood, but had we decided to evacuate, I could have gotten out of here with the 9 hour plan fully executed in only 90 minutes.
More on that later in part 2…