LISTENING TO KATRINA
PAGES IN THIS BLOG ARE RATED 'R' AND DO CONTAIN
PROFANITY, VULGARITY, GRAPHIC VIOLENCE, NUDITY,
SCENES OF HUMAN EMOTION, DEATH, DESTRUCTION, MAYHEM, AND VARIOUS
PLAN - T-Minus 60 Minutes
Yes, boys and girls, it's time to talk about the One Hour Plan. At this point, you should have:
1. Laptop Bag (or box of
2. BOB (Bug Out Bag)
3. Complete documentation of your entire life using a digital camera
4. 60 Second Escape Plan
5. Collection of people to communicate
6. Dependable escape pod.
All you need now is a space suit, and you're ready to travel! Uh... Wait... That's not right...
If you stop with the items you (should!) have now, and do nothing else, then you're actually doing fairly well. You're more than halfway done with your emergency preparations - and you've actually done the hardest half. The tasks you accomplish during the One Hour Plan are extra gravy poured over the meat and potatoes of the 60 Second plan. Exactly what that gravy entails will be very specific to your particular context. Where you go when you leave the house is also very specific to your circumstances, and we'll cover that in due time.
Like I said on a prior page, "I am not going to pretend that I know the best answer for you or your family. I am going to tell you about my context, but there are some things in my plans that will not work for you. There are some things in my plans that will be outright wrong for you. My only intention is to give you a framework upon which to build your own Plan."
Let's assume that you need to leave your house quickly, but you have some additional time to prepare. Let's say that there is a wildfire a few miles away and you are down wind. The fire is going to come into your area, and you have been instructed by government authority to evacuate. The first thing to do is execute the 60 Second Plan. Get your laptop bag and your BOB into the car as we have planned. Step two is to ready the escape pod. Pour that 5 gallons of gas into the tank. Check the vital fluids if you haven't done so recently. Tires properly inflated? Good. Given that you know what you are doing, all of that shouldn't take you any more than 10 minutes. Everything else is gravy.
No matter what you do, always do those things first. If you are leaving, the dependability of your escape pod is more important than any other wealth you might save. You are about to put the most valuable, most cherished, and most precious items you own into this vehicle and entrust your fate to it. If it fails you for whatever reason, you are going to be on foot - or worse, find yourself a guest of the government vacation plan.
As we develop the 1 Hour Checklist, keep in mind that SURVIVAL IS NOT A PLAN. Your Plan is also not a suicide letter. If the danger gets closer faster than you anticipated, then leave early. That's why we put the laptop bag, BOB, and other critical things in the car first. We are ready to go, and now we use the balance of our time to secure wealth.
To talk about it in that way, in the laptop bag we have secured our priceless photographs, our Identity, and Education along with many other documents of a critical nature. Speaking of that, I've found a few of my childhood pictures that I've started scanning. Seems like I didn't like to wear clothes back then either... Hmmm...
The clock is running on us, though, so let's spin through our One Hour Checklist so that we can get out of here! The wealth we focus on most in the One Hour Plan is material wealth.
The checklist is actually the largest part of the plan. We've already covered 1 and 2. There are seven items in the checklist. Again, that has a purpose. You should spend no more than ten minutes on each item. The first item should only take 60 seconds, so you'll have to make that minute up somewhere else. If, at any time during the Plan, the danger becomes greater, escape sooner than later.
We should write a song... "When the danger gets greater, bug-out sooner than later!"
For this plan, you will want to keep some items handy. Boxes of various sizes. I like cardboard file boxes. They have built in handles, and a lid. They are a perfect size for carrying, stacking, and packing. You can get them at any office supply house cheaply. You will also want a roll of packing tape, for taping the boxes. Once you fill a box, tape the lid down securely. Having your suitcases handy saves time. You should also have your checklist and a pen, pencil, or blue crayon to check items off. We're actually going to cover these preparations and more on another page.
1. Execute 60 Second Plan
By now you should be good at it, so faster is better. This is not a drill.
2. Ready the Escape Pod
You can skip the windows if they are passable. I just like to have clean windows, especially for night driving. If you perform regular maintenance on your vehicle, it should always be ready to go so you may save some time in this step by being active about your maintenance. Keeping the vehicle clean will also be a benefit. Not necessarily washed and polished, but if your kids are like mine, the back seat tends to fill up with unidentifiable trash rather quickly...
If you have more than one suitable vehicle, plan to take them both. You can also carry more wealth that way...
Any room not needed for passengers should be arranged for maximum carrying capacity. Fold seats down, and otherwise arrange your vehicle as necessary. If you are going to hitch a trailer or camper, this is the time to do it.
3. Secure additional data.
Files, documents, original photographs.
This would include your ancillary file box with additional documents. If you have original photographs that you would like to rescue, collect these and put them in a box. Scrap books, compact disks, DVDs, or other media that cannot be replaced (like video of your wedding). Computer software disks may also be desired. If your laptop crashes, you may need to reload it.
4. Secure additional wealth.
Cash, irreplaceable valuables.
If you have not already done so, put all of your prescription medicines in a bag and put them in the car. Now proceed to secure additional wealth.
This is where we need to talk about insurance, but I'm going to leave that for a little later. Do not try to load your brand new large screen TV into the car. Items of that nature should be properly insured. In fact, you should have your receipts and photographs of those items in your laptop bag and/or ancillary file box.
The things that you should secure are any items of an irreplaceable nature. For me, that list is rather short. I do not tend to accumulate valuable stuff. I have a small collection of things that I inherited over time that are not terribly valuable, but impossible to replace. I consider them in this step because that's where they rank for me.
You should also secure all of your firearms, and practicing all of the rules of safety, pack them UNLOADED into the car. You should have a suitable carrying case for each firearm you intend to evacuate. If not, roll them in a blanket. In all cases, all firearms being stowed and packed this way should be unloaded. Check it twice, save a life. Firearms being actively carried for personal defense should be loaded and properly holstered or otherwise on 'SAFE'. Check that twice too.
If you have too many firearms to pack into the car, then you are going to have to make hard decisions. If you leave firearms behind in the house, render them inoperable in case they are stolen or looted. I have a number of .22 caliber single shot rifles that are not particularly valuable and I left those in the house when I left for Katrina. I did, however, take all the bolts out and took the bolts with me. No operable firearm should be left in your home - even if it is inside a safe. The last thing you want to come home to is a bunch of thugs living in your house armed with your own guns. Hide them somewhere. Putting them in the attic, laid under some insulation is a good place for hiding rifles from would-be looters who are too lazy to check there. People in the know - like police - will look there, but looters tend to be of the dumbest sort of people. It's a bad idea to keep your firearms there, but for hiding them quickly, it's good. You may have other favorite hiding places that work for you in your home. I have such places, but I'm not going to tell you about them for obvious reasons.
In this step, you can also grab a couple of cans of ammo for those weapons you are taking with you. Remember that ammunition is heavy. Over-loading your escape pod is a bad idea. Use common sense. We'll get into this on another page.
5. Pack additional clothing.
If you are leaving, you don't have any real guarantee as to when you might return. Limit this to one small or medium suitcase for each member of the family. Have at least two sets of clothes that you can go to work in. Children should have three sets of 'play' or 'school' clothes, and one set of 'good' clothes. Additional socks and underwear are a good idea. If you are inclined to wear pajamas, you can pack those. If you won't sleep naked, sleeping in street clothes can be uncomfortable. A bath towel and wash cloth in each suitcase is also a good idea. Everyone should pack their shaving kits, which should be ready to go. Ladies will want their makeup bags - which should also be ready to go. Items like soap, bottles of shampoo, and other things should be left behind. They are heavy, and inexpensive to replace.
6. Secure 'comfort' items.
Items of sentimental value.
The car is pretty full at this point. The kid's favorite stuffed animals come next. Some bedding items, favorite pillows, favorite blanket or two. All of these items will make your living conditions more comfortable wherever you end up. They also smell like home, which is oddly important at times.
After Katrina, many families wound up in hotel rooms or with friends and family who were not readily equipped to handle the sleeping arrangements for so many people. A dozen or more people may be forced to sleep in cramped quarters. Having your own pillow and blanket will make sleeping on the floor less tortuous. We carry our own Areo-bed, which is an inflatable mattress. If you are a backpacker, you will be familiar with sleeping pads of all kinds, and some of these may be just the thing.
Use the pillows and blankets to pad and stabilize everything you have packed so far.
Assuming we are just about ready to go, but still have some time, get a box about the size of a cardboard file box. (A cardboard file box actually works perfectly.) Move quickly through the house, imagining that when you leave you will never return. Fill the box with items that you would dearly miss. If you have two cars, you can have two boxes, but not more than one box per car for this.
Pull everything off your refrigerator and put that in the bottom of the box. You'll miss your refrigerator magnets. Trust me. Keep the magnets away from your laptop bag.
7. Secure the house.
Unplug all appliances
Turn off unneeded utilities
Make a sign
While we may not be returning ever again, there is also the outside chance that we will return, and so we want to secure our homes in order to protect wealth. Window and door locks are no deterrence to thieves and looters, but go around and lock all the windows anyway.
Adjust the thermostat, or turn it off. For Katrina, I turned the air conditioner on and the thermostat up to 80 degrees. My theory was that if the house took some water, but the air conditioner managed to come back on when power was restored, then I would have less moisture to deal with. You may live in a cold climate, and you will need to act accordingly. The safest thing to do is turn all heating and air conditioning OFF.
Turn off your ice maker. (Lift the wire bar all the way up until it locks.)
Unplug all appliances. Toasters, televisions, clocks, everything within reason except your refrigerator and freezer. Unplug computers and other items that aren't coming with you. Unplug lamps. Everything.
Turn off your water heater.
Turn off unneeded utilities. Throw circuit breakers on everything but your refrigerator, freezer, and air conditioner. Know in advance which breakers these are. Turn off the gas - unless you've left a gas heater on, which I wouldn't recommend. If you turn off your own gas, DO NOT TURN IT BACK ON! If you know exactly what to do, then you will need to make that decision. If you do not know what to do, you will need to wait for someone from the gas company to turn your gas back on for you. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, just leave the gas alone. You don't need to bother disconnecting telephone or cable lines.
Turn off the water. Do not do this unless you are sure you have turned off the hot water heater. There should be a valve where your main water line goes into the house. Shut this valve off completely. If there is any risk of freeze while you are away, drain your pipes. Do this by opening all the valve in your house and then opening a lower valve - like a valve for your garden hose - and let all the water out of the pipes. After you've done that, flush all the toilets. This will empty the tanks of water which may freeze and break them. Even if you have left heat on, turn off the water and drain the pipes and toilets.
The last thing to do is to make a sign. Make it out of something durable, seal a piece of paper in a ZipLoc bag, or spray paint it on your door. The sign says, "EVERYONE EVACUATED. NOBODY HOME HERE." If you don't do that, rescue workers *will* do whatever it takes to get into your house and 'check for survivors'. We'll be talking about this in later pages. MAKE THE SIGN!
That, my friends, is your framework. You still have some work to do. You should fill in the framework and make a step by step checklist. When the end of the world is approaching, you won't have the presence of mind to remember even common things. Write ALL of it down, and actually draw a line through each item as you accomplish it. When you leave, take the list with you. That way, when you are having a nice freak out several hundred miles from home, and your wife asks you, "Did you remember to unplug the Orgasmatron?", you can refer to the list and know for sure.
I know this sounds incredibly stupid, but really do spell things out very simply and in no uncertain terms. Bugging out is incredibly stressful in every way possible - mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If you make a simple list that you can check off, you will be very glad to have it should the need arise.
The other benefit of having a straightforward list is that you can split the list with your spouse. "I will ready the escape pod! You go save the priceless bronze earwig collection!" Another reason to have such a list is that someone else can follow it if they need to. If Uncle Eddie happens to be over for a visit when SHTF, you can put him to work locking the windows and pulling appliance plugs.
3. Secure additional data.
Files, documents, original photographs.
As an example of this item, my personal list looks like this:
1. Brown accordion folder behind bar in living room.
2. Black CaseLOGIC CD case in bar cabinet.
3. Baby Books & Scrap Books in large cabinet in living room.
4. Recent mail off counter in kitchen by back door.
5. Software disks off computer desk in living room.
My wife may have additional things that I do not know about, so I need to involve her in the list. Recognize that some things that you may cherish are actually replicable. We have large poster size photos of the girls up in the living room. We would not take them with us, however, because we can replace them from the digital files from which they came in the first place.
When you come to cutting off utilities, you should note where each cut-off is, and how it operates. If tools are required, note where these tools are kept. We'll be covering that in an additional page on these preparations.
For now, though, I am going to leave you to work on your One Hour Plan. As you do so, you will find it helpful to walk through and around your house and make some rough notes and fill in the details as time goes on. This is a project that you can do on the weekend in just an hour or so. Once you get started, you'll find that it's very easy.