If evacuation is on your preparedness plan, then you need to create a plan for that evacuation. You do not want to leave this to the last minute. If you are prepared, you will be able to take more things with you and stay calmer.
  If you got a phone call today letting you know you had 10 minutes to evacuate, what you would grab? Where you'd go? Learn how to be ready for evacuation.
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Even if evacuation is not on your preparedness plan, it likely should be for one simple reason: house fires! House fires are more common than you might think and you should be prepared to evacuate quickly in case of one.
The other risk factors for evacuation depend on where you live. If you live in wild fire, flood, hurricane, volcano, tsunami or tornado areas, you may experience a recommended or even mandatory evacuation at some point.
The thing about evacuation is that the amount of time you have to prepare to leave will depend on the hazard. With a hurricane, you may have a day or two. But with a house fire, you may only have seconds. Or you may have somewhere between those two extremes. Think about it:
Would your family be ready to evacuate if necessary?


  • What would you grab if you had a full day’s warning?
  • What would you grab if you had 30 minutes warning?
  • What if you had 10 minutes warning?
  • What if you only had moments?
  • Where will you go if only your home is affected?
  • Where will you go if only your immediate area is affected?
  • Where will you go if your area and hundreds of miles around is affected?
  • How will you gather all your family members?
  • Where will you gather all your family members?
  • How will you communicate with local and long distance family members?

If you have, or plan to purchase, the Prepare My Life Planner, Tami (the creator) walks you through all of this with detailed worksheets that stay right in your grab and go binder.


Otherwise, I have three suggestions:

1. Know What to Grab:


First, sit down with all the adults and teenage children in your home. Create a list of everything you’d want to take with you if you had a full days warning to evacuate and could do so in your car. Also include things you may need to DO. Think about what you are preparing to evacuate FOR in these situations. Will you need a tent, or will you be going to your brother’s house in the next town over? Think about items that will help you take care of your family as well as sentimental items you would not want to lose if your home were destroyed.

Now, prioritize that list according to what is most important to you. Those things that are absolutely essential to grab or do should at the top. Print this list and post it near your doors and put one in your grab and go binder.

Next, move any items that you can (pictures, hard drives, extra keys, grab and go / important documents binder, water, books, tents, 72 hour kits, etc) near an exit to make them easier to grab quickly.

Last, practice at least once to make sure you can get through everything on your list as quickly as possible and so you know how to fit everything in your car.  Make needed adjustments.  Then practice yearly.

We did this a few years ago actually and it brings such peace of mind! We actually split our list into two: Moments and Minutes or More because we found our priorities were different depending on the time we had.

In addition our prioritized list is split it between my husband and I. We each just start working down our list until we have to leave.

We’ve also assumed that if we had 10 minutes notice or more we would be able to leave in our van and would likely be able to get to a friend or family members home within a day or two. If we only had moments, it would be on foot.

Below are our lists. I’d love to hear your plans / suggestions!



Get girl’s shoes on

Get my shoes on

Grab purse and cell

Get grab and go binder

Get to garage with girls

Get 72 hour kit on

Get outside with girls


Get boy’s shoes on

Get own shoes on

Grab wallet and cell

Grab external hard drive and camera

Get to garage with boys

Get 72 hr kit on him and boys

Get outside with boys




My shoes on

Kid’s shoes on

Turn on movie for kids IN VAN (on iPad)

Jackets and winter gear in van (if winter time)

Grab and go binder, my purse, Nathan’s wallet, keys, cell phones and chargers in van

External hard drive and camera in van.

Extra flashlights (these are my favorite), solar generators and other power out supplies in van.

Quick Meals and extra snack food in van

Cooler filled with milk, cheese, fresh fruit and frozen water in van

Kid’s pillows, blankies and stuffed animals in van.

Extra clothes, diapers, and medicine in van

Toys, coloring books, games and crayons in van


Shoes on

Shut off gas and water to house

Put 72 hour kits in the van

24 pack water bottles in van

Family pictures / journal tub in van

Kids keepsake boxes in van

Family tent in van (also heard good things about this one, but we don’t own it)

Butane Stove and quickfire stove in van with butane and quickfire pucks.

Firewood in van

Fishing gear in van

Additional extra blankets in van

Guitar in van

Favorite books in van


A few notes:

  • If the house is in full flames, we wouldn’t worry about ANYTHING on the list except ourselves and our children.
  • We keep our grab and go binder, camera and our (1 TB, but very small) external hard drive RIGHT by our garage door. We would walk right by them on our way out making it simple to grab them as we go.
  • We keep our 72 hour kits in our garage
  • The reason for turning on a movie for the kids is to keep them out of the way / distracted while my husband and I run around like crazy people. Rolling on the floor laughing
  • We keep a pair of shoes near the garage AND front doors for all family members.
  • All our power out supplies are in one upstairs hall closet making it easy to find and grab things
  • We keep one cooler, 24 pack water bottles, firewood, our family tent, fishing gear, and our butane stove, and quickfire stove in the garage.
  • We keep (all day everyday) an emergency crank powered radio, a first aid kit, mini 72 hour kit, extra blankets, an emergency road kit, snacks, a current and 3-4 year old family photo (for ID purposes) and small bills (money) in our van.
  • All of our family pictures are on our external hard drive, but we have some pictures from mine and my husband’s childhood that aren’t (remember the days of film??).  These, along with older written journals are all in a tub in our basement.
  • We also have a tub and file folder for each of our kids where we keep sentimental things for them when they get older.  These are also in our basement.
  • We did not list out scriptures separately as we have a copy of them on our iPads / phones.
  • You can find a list of what USED to be my Grab-and-Go binder here.  I’ve since started using the Prepare My Life Planner which is much better for so many reasons, but it isn’t free like the printable I provide in that post.  My free folder worked for me for a long time!


2.  Know Where To Go:

You should have two meeting places in case you aren’t all at home during a disaster and / or you don’t all get out at the same time:

  • Somewhere right outside your home (in case of house fire etc)
  • Somewhere outside your neighborhood in case the entire neighborhood is affected.
  • Someone outside your city and surrounding area in case the entire area is affected.  This would apply more to older children / working spouses.

Make sure everyone in your home knows where these meeting places are and how to get there.  Practice getting there!

In addition, if you want to avoid a shelter, you should pre-arrange with a few local and longer distance friends / family members to stay at their home in case of evacuation.

.3.  Know How to Communicate

Three Tips:

  1. Oftentimes, your cell won’t allow you to make local calls, but you will be able to make long distance calls.  So, choose a long distance friend / relative.  You can use this person as a check-in and a way to relay information between local family members that are not together yet.
  2. Test messages and emails may get through when you can’t make a phone call.
  3. Know the emergency radio channel where official information will be given and that you have an emergency radio in your 72 hour kits and / or vehicles.


There you have it!  Now, go create your family’s evacuation plan!


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If you got a phone call today letting you know you had 10 minutes to evacuate, what you would grab? Where you'd go? Learn how to be ready for evacuation.