Stay or Evacuate

Evacuation Route

Plan to Evacuate

One of the hardest decisions you can make during a disaster is whether to abandon your home. You may feel by evacuating that you are giving up. You want to stay and protect your property and possessions from looters and from further damage. However, your life may be in jeopardy if you stay in some cases. Manmade disasters can create a hostile environment to include airborne contaminates and armed invasions that you simply are not prepared for. You may also encounter demonstrations and riots if you live in an urban environment. Any number of events can cause you to evacuate, and you have to be prepared for the possibility.


Planning for evacuation is essential. Plans have to be made to deal with your emergency supplies. You have to decide what stays and what goes because practically speaking you will not be able to take it all with you. However, you do have options and one option is to cache your supplies in various locations that you control. It is not recommended that you cache supplies in a commercial storage facility however. You may not have access to the facility during a disaster and commercial areas are a prime target for looters as well.

Your supplies should be cached along any routes you have mapped out. You will need at least three evacuations routes out of your area because one or even two routes could be blocked or the road or bridges destroyed. Ideally, you already have a safe area that you control that you will use as an offsite base camp. Supplies should be cached there as well. The downfall to having all your supplies in one area is that you can lose all of your supplies if you are overrun, robbed or your structure is damaged.

You will need to be able to resupply if you are forced from your home, or come back home and find it has been taken over. If this happens, you can evacuate and gather supplies along the route. Keep in mind during any crisis there will be an exodus of desperate people from large metropolitan areas.

Urban Areas

If you live in a large urban area, you may have to make it out of the area on foot. This must be prepared for by having your bug-out-bag at the ready. It may be difficult to evacuate from a large city in a vehicle, so you have to pack carefully because essentially your only lifeline is your bag. You must have shelter, or the means to make a shelter, enough water and food to see you out of the danger area and the tools and materials to collect and purify any surface water source along the way. It is impractical to think you can carry enough food and water to see you through the crisis so you have to be prepared with the proper tools and materials to resupply yourself with water and food along the route. Walk the evacuation routes you have mapped out because landmarks and navigational guides you use when driving may be destroyed. You will need a street level perspective to find your way on foot.

It is important you leave before you become trapped in the city, so you have to monitor the situation carefully. If the crisis is prolonged, you have to consider leaving before looters and demonstrators take over. Sanitation will be a problem and collecting clean drinking water will be problematic as well. The government can also enact Marshall Law if there is an extreme situation. You want to be gone before this happens. Once Marshall Law is in effect, federal troops will have law enforcement authority.

Rural Areas

It is always recommended to shelter in place if it is safe to do so. People living in rural areas have certain advantages over people in urban areas when it comes to a crisis. It is not likely you would be confronted with demonstrations or riots in a rural setting. You may however have to deal with people fleeing the cities. Typically, you would have vehicles you can evacuate in meaning you can carry a large portion of your supplies with you. Reasons you may have to leave include damage to your structure, armed invasions and airborne contaminates. In some cases, you can erect shelters on your property if your home is damaged.

It is recommended that you do not store all of your supplies in your home. Rural homes may be a target during a crisis. Furthermore, do not advertise the fact you are preparing and/or have a large stockpile. Many “preppers” believe it is necessary to get others involved because the belief is that the more people who are prepared the less of a burden there will be on communities and individuals during a crisis. This is true for the most part but there will always be those for whatever reason do not prepare. Many have economic issues and others simply believe nothing will happen to them. These people will be a burden and once they become desperate they will become a threat.

Friends, neighbors and even strangers in the name of providing for their families may turn violent during a crisis. You can be a target if it is known you have a large supply. To some this thinking may appear to be callous, but you must keep in mind in a life or death situation your first obligation is to your family and yourself. You have to make decisions about helping others as the question comes up. Some people will fail to consider what happens when friends and neighbors ask for food and water, when calculating the amount of supplies needed. Assume whatever initial calculations you have are wrong. You have to plan for waste, spoilage, damage and others asking for supplies or simply taking what they need.

Have a safe haven that you can escape too if needed. Your haven will be a base camp until other arrangements can be made or it is safe to return home. Have supplies in various locations around your property so if you have to evacuate in a hurry you can resupply as you leave. In some situations, you may not have the time to remove your supplies from your home.