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EVACUATION!! What You Need to Grab in an Emergency

Updated on January 3, 2021
Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle has experience with wild critters and gardening adventures while living the simple life in a rural area for 20 years.

We have all heard stories about people exiting their homes quickly to avoid a disasters like wildfires or flood. Maybe you have never thought this happening to you, but if it does it could be a panic situation .

Your first priority is saving lives, but if you have even a few minutes you might also be able to rescue some possessions and important personal items.

Depending upon immediate circumstances and upon how well you have prepared before the disaster, you can make it easier to put your life back together if the worst should happen.

But, how do you decide what to take?

What you need to do now before finding yourself in an emergency situation, is to make a simple printed list of important documents, valuables and irreplaceable family items.

When a sudden crisis occurs it is sometimes hard to think straight.

Put your priority list in an accessible, visible spot marked with the word "evacuation" or "emergency." You may want to place it near an exit door.

Your pet may have its own "cat"egories
Your pet may have its own "cat"egories | Source

Four Basic Categories

If you need to evacuate your home, there are four or five kinds of things you will want to save. Organizing them and keeping them together will help.

1.) Information/important papers.

Documents, policies, certificates, licenses tax information and contact information. (If you have all of these things on your laptop computer-- You are ahead of the game.)

2.) Sentimental possessions and family memories.

Photos, scrapbooks, quilts and things passed down from your family

3.) Immediate needs.

An 'overnight" or "carry on" bag pre-packed with a change of clothes, personal items and medications.

4.) Valuables with monetary worth.

Cash, jewelry, cameras, small electronics or antiques.

It may be impractical to take large items like appliances, furniture and big screen tv's-- let your insurance cover those.

5.) Livestock and pets .

This might even go at the top of your list.

A Simple, Sample List

  • Wallet and/or purse with cards and cash.
  • Cell phone or tablet, with charger and cord.
  • Keys, including safe deposit box key.
  • Glasses or contacts and prescriptions.
  • Legal Documents, Tax, insurance and business records
  • Pre-packed overnight bag.
  • Photo albums, family history, heirlooms.
  • Cameras, GPS, firearms, laptop, valuable tools.
  • Cash, gold, silver.
  • Quilts and pillows, especially handmade ones from family.

You should have original documents, deeds etc in a secure location like a safe deposit box away from your home. (Remember to take your SD box key.)

Copies should be organized at home in a take away file or sturdy box at home. (This can be labeled "children's art" or something that will not attract the attention of thieves.)

It is even easier if you have all of these things copied onto a portable computer or tablet.

Prepare Before You Need To

Before detailing the categories more completely, let's state the obvious:

Grab your wallet or purse, and a cell phone if you have one. If you have a laptop or tablet computer, you should get that, too.

You will probably have credit and bank cards, driver's license and medical information cards already in the wallet. (If not, correct that right now.)

Also, there should be some emergency cash, as well as a card with phone contacts ( insurance company, family , etc.) and possibly your CODED social security number, bank account, passwords, pin numbers (again coded) and other important personal info.

If your wallet is the only thing you can grab, make sure it is loaded with your necessary information.

Your cell phone should be programmed with family and friends numbers, PLUS numbers for your insurance, bank, credit card company ( lost card numbers) and any other contacts that may be useful to your situation.

Find out from your cell phone service provider how you can use your phone as a lookup for weather reports, driving conditions, the nearest pizza place in the next town, and a wide range of information which may be helpful if you are stranded in an unfamiliar place.

Depending on your phone functions, it can also act as a flashlight, clock, alarm, camera (photographic memory), as well as a diversion.

Make sure you have cords and everything necessary to recharge your phone or tablet. If power is out, you may have to recharge in a vehicle, or use a hand-cranked or battery source to power up.

1. Information and Papers

You will want contact information for family and friends, so you can let them know you are alright.

Names and contact information of insurers and copies of policies might help you get assistance quickly. Video of your home interior, and still photos of valuable items can help with insurance assessment if your house is damaged or destroyed.

Having a copy of last year's tax forms, current business records, and medical records can help avoid frustrations. Personal and legal documents should always be protected in a safe deposit box or other secure location.

Again, having copies of all of these things loaded into your computer (password protected) or tablet is very convenient, especially if you are in a hurry.

Antique books, family heirlooms?
Antique books, family heirlooms? | Source

2. Family Memories

Photos, scrapbooks, and things passed down from your family are some of the items people regret losing.

Hand made and inherited items hold special meanings and comfort.

The quilt your grandmother made, might be used to wrap a painting or a fragile item, or the big old Bible with family information.

Make sure you list includes those items special to your family memories.

3.) Immediate Needs

An 'overnight" or "carry on" bag pre-packed with personal items.

Travel- sized cosmetics, dental care items, medications (and a list of prescriptions with numbers), a change of clothing and a jacket or sweater should be included. Personalize this to suit your needs and wants.

This is also handy to have pre-prepared for any kind of travel situation, even a quick weekend getaway for fun.

4.) Valuables and Money

You should have some cash on hand, it will help with some immediate needs and there's no way to replace it if it is swept away. Also, if there is a n area-wide power outage, you won't get any money from the ATM. Stores, if they are open, won't be able to take credit cards. Some cash could be very handy.

Small valuables like quality jewelry, gold coins, silver, firearms, cameras, laptops, and small antiques should be in places where they can be quickly and easily located.

5. Livestock and Pets

If you have horses, or other large animals, you probably have already thought about alternative safe sites for them to be stabled. If not, check with your local animal control department and ask if a fairground or other place can be used in an emergency such as fire or flood. You need to have this information before disaster strikes.

If it is a sudden event, make sure the animals are not confined in a barn or enclosure. If they are forced to flee on their own, at least they won't be trapped. Most often they are likely to find a safe spot away from the trouble. Some livestock owners place an identifying mark on their animals. I have heard of Telephone numbers being put on hose hooves with permanent markers.

For your small pets you will need to have carriers or animal crates, especially is they are not used to riding in a car. Don't forget their food and maybe their favorite bedding. Just like us, they do better when they have their familiar favorite things with them.

If You Need to Leave With Almost Nothing

Think of how much information you could already have copied and saved on your laptop or other portable device.

If it is not already in there, you might want to organize it now or save all your personal information to a separate portable drive or other copy media.

Scans of photos, old letters, genealogies, family stories and memories can all be preserved easily.

What about that novel you have been writing, and all the research you have done.?

Other important papers include property deeds and ownership certificates for vehicles as well as diplomas, marriage licenses, divorce papers, birth and death certificates, naturalization documents and passports.

Copies of your documents, tax information, insurance policies, investment records, household inventories and business files can all be saved on your hard drive, flash drive or a packet of CD's.

Saved on a laptop or a portable drive, all of these are easier to transport than a load of papers. You might even want to have them already copied and saved in another location or in a safe deposit box.

Hopefully , disasters will stay away from your home, but a few small preparations can make things much easier . . . just in case.


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    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      7 weeks ago from California Gold Country

      After a yearful of disasters, we should all be reminded of what we need to prepare.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      23 months ago from North Texas

      It's always good to think about and prepare for an emergency, if only because they usually come without warning. Further, they are usually very intense so that focusing on anything other than the disaster at hand is impossible.

      I took time years ago to think about how I would manage getting out of my home quickly and unexpectedly, and to make lists and plans on how to deal with it, if disaster should occur.

      In the end I got better organized and had a suitcase that I kept near the door containing all the most important things that I wouldn't want to lose. There isn't always time to collect all the things one would like to salvage no matter how well planned out.

      Most important are those things that can't be replaced. That used to include photographs, but nowadays you can put all your photos on DVDs. Put all your cherished photos on at least 3 different DVDs and store those DVDs in different places. It's unlikely your home, your bank's safe deposit box, and a storage unit a little distance from your home, say a mile or so, will all be destroyed at the same time. Keep one of the DVDs in each of those places, or at a close friend or relative's home, or somewhere outside of your home where they will remain accessible in an emergency. If you have a trustworthy friend or relative in a far off location, that might be the best place of all to store one of your discs since a flood or tornado is unlikely to effect their location at the same time you are going through it. Taking care of photos now is an example of one less thing you must worry about in an emergency.

      Things that can be easily replaced and that have no sentimental value should be further down on one's list to deal with. Things that might be a bit of a pain to replace (tax records, birth certificates, etc), but in fact could be replaced should be lower on the list as well. When a true emergency presents itself, time is usually of the greatest importance and saving lives should always be at the top of the list.

      So you are wise to encourage people to think about and prepare now for the unexpected disaster, when they can hopefully think straight and perhaps take care of some things now before an emergency occurs, such as preserving their photos as I described above.

    • lovetherain profile image


      3 years ago from Untited States

      Nice article. It's always good to be prepared for anything. Great tips.

    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      6 years ago from California Gold Country

      I can remember that recommendation, too, VGSA. Actually I think I read that hint in a Dick Tracy comic strip (or perhaps a Hallmark card) . I think in those days clothes might have been one of the more valuable possessions we owned,

      I appreciate your response.

    • VJGSA profile image


      6 years ago from Texas

      I still remember my mom still telling me and my siblings to always hang our clothes hangars facing the same direction so that we could easily grab the hanging clothes in case of a fire. When I was a kid we didn't have important papers or valuable equipment like we do now (this was the 60s) all was each other (sorry, didn't mean to sound like a Hallmark card). Had my mom seen this article, she would have printed it and stuck it to the refrigerator door with a magnet and make it required reading for us kids.

    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      8 years ago from California Gold Country

      Thank you, rajan jolly. No matter where in the world we are, we can suddenly face a sudden evacuation. i appreciate your comment.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      8 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      A very useful list and a greatly useful hub. Thanks for putting this together, it makes it so much easier to get it done now.

      voted up, useful and awesome.

    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      9 years ago from California Gold Country

      You are right, Marisa. Things are only things. I heard one story about about the recent cruise ship disaster. Apparently one musician/entertainer , who was quite well regarded for his musicianship, helped make sure a lot of children were safe-- then he went to retrieve his precious violin, and became one of the casualties.

      He did a very heroic and right thing at first. I'm sure his violin was the most precious 'thing' in his life, but it caused him to lose his own life.

    • Marisa Wright profile image

      Kate Swanson 

      9 years ago from Sydney

      Some great tips! I would add a couple more - I watched a good program about escaping a disaster last night!

      They confirmed that acting out your plan is the best way to ensure you follow it in an emergency. The other point is that no matter how much you've packed, you need to be prepared to leave the lot behind if you're really under threat - they mentioned that a lot of people who should survive airline or ship disasters don't, because they stopped to collect their belongings before evacuating.

    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      9 years ago from California Gold Country

      Sometimes we find it hard to follow our own advice. We need to listen to ourselves.

    • Enlydia Listener profile image

      Enlydia Listener 

      9 years ago from trailer in the country

      thanks for reminding me...I wrote an article about having a "bug-out" bag a while back, but never really prepared once I wrote would be sad to say, "I knew better, but I didn't get around to it".

    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      9 years ago from California Gold Country

      Good idea about the hard drive-- easier to update and to keep everything in one place. Being displaced is very stressful. Having some of your 'stuff' helps a little.

    • profile image

      Kymberly Fergusson 

      9 years ago from Germany

      Or if you have too much to store on DVDs, invest in an external hard drive, and backup photos, documents, music, work, etc. Obviously it's important to keep the backup up to date - something that's nigh impossible with DVDs. Grab the drive when you evacuate.

      I'd also suggest you take water with you.

      I had to evacuate with my cats, from a fire heading directly for my house in 2009. It's a horrible feeling, made a lot worse if you feel you have left something important behind!

    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      9 years ago from California Gold Country

      Thank you, jesusmyjoy.

    • jesusmyjoy profile image

      Betty Bolden 

      9 years ago from Bucyrus Ohio

      well written and good job

    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      9 years ago from California Gold Country

      You are right, JamaGeenee. Now is the time. A little forethought can prevent a lot of regret. Even if you don't face an emergency, it would be nice to have all those special photos and papers together, so you family will have a record of them, later.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 

      9 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Great hub, Rochelle! But may I add that NOW is the time to scan old family photos (front AND back) and historical documents and such onto DVDs. Store those DVDs in your laptop case or overnight bag so you won't waste time looking for them when you have to leave. Might even be a good idea to add to the DVD photographs of family heirlooms like the quilt Grandma made or antiques you won't be able to take with you. ;D

    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      9 years ago from California Gold Country

      Hi, Rachelle. I think it's important to remember that most things can be replaced. It is good to identify the things that can't be.

    • Rachelle Williams profile image

      Rachelle Williams 

      9 years ago from Tempe, AZ

      This is a very useful hub. I know that I would first grab my sentimental possessions, I always thought I was being silly for that, but your hub has shown me that it is not so silly after all.

      Good work here...

    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      9 years ago from California Gold Country

      Thank you, fastfreta. Hope you are having good traveling weather. Keep away from those disasters.

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 

      9 years ago from Southern California

      Very useful hub, especially for those who live in disaster prone areas, earthquake, hurricanes, tornadoes, fire prone areas, etc. However, those things can happen anywhere, the summer of 2011 proved that, with earthquakes in places where there was hardly ever any. Very good and needed hub, Rochelle. Voted up, useful.

    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      9 years ago from California Gold Country

      Thank you, Highvoltagewriter. Yes, I hope everyone of the east coast of the USA had time to do this. It's best done before evacuation.

    • Highvoltagewriter profile image

      William Benner 

      9 years ago from Savannah GA.

      Great info and very important for every one to know Thanks foe sharing!

    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      9 years ago from California Gold Country

      I's not hard to do, but many of us put it off too long. Thanks for commenting.

    • SweetiePie profile image


      9 years ago from Southern California, USA

      This is good information for those who are planning how to leave their homes. Evacuations are never enjoyable, but this hub can help make people more prepared for such circumstances.

    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      9 years ago from California Gold Country

      Yes it is best to think through this when you are in a calm, relaxed mood.

    • Ruchira profile image


      9 years ago from United States

      A good topic to hub on...'cause it sure is difficult to think through that time what exactly will we need and one could get emotional.

      a good list indeed!

    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      9 years ago from California Gold Country

      I appreciate the ratings and comment, Peggy W. I have done most of them, but it always seems that there are a few things that have been on the 'to do' list for far too long.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      After reading this...I need to get better organized! Thanks for all of these valuable tips! Rated useful and up.

    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      9 years ago from California Gold Country

      Thank you, Phil Plasma. I probably should have given more emphasis to the laptop of netbook. Chances are that many people reading this have one. If I update this, I think I may put more focus there.

    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 

      9 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      Topping up the laptop (or in my case netbook) with all of the key info is a smart idea - most of the rest of what you've written we've already done but I hadn't thought of the topping up - thanks.

    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      9 years ago from California Gold Country

      You are right. Thinking about it now, even if we don't want to, might be a good idea.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      9 years ago from London, UK

      Very good thought ofvraising this subject. You don't think about about it till you have to face it. Thank you.

    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      9 years ago from California Gold Country

      Me too, Om Paramapoonya, but I have a list. Thanks!

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 

      9 years ago

      Very useful tips. I hope I will never have to be in that situation, though.

    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      9 years ago from California Gold Country

      Thanks, rihamah, for your comment.

    • rihamah profile image


      9 years ago

      Very useful tips. thanks for a great hub

    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      9 years ago from California Gold Country

      Thanks, Cardisa. I think most of us know how to prepare. Actually getting it done is the important part.

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 

      9 years ago from Jamaica

      Very useful tips. Kinda still reeling from the gas hub so I almost hit the funny button. Very serious situation, we should all be prepared. Thanks for the tips.

    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      9 years ago from California Gold Country

      Thanks for your kind comment, jasper 420.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      very well thought out well written and very usefull idea thanks


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