Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Bug Out: What to take.

Today in SE Louisiana, we are looking to our West with worried eyes for our neighbors, and to the East with concern about quite a nasty storm that may be heading our way. Hurricane Irma is, in scientific terms, a huge storm that I'm not willing to play with. My family would not hesitate to ride out a Category 1 or 2 hurricane at our home. We have adequate food, water, and means of self defense to make that happen with ease. What I don't want is to be stuck in the path of a Category 4 or 5 hurricane when we have the means to escape the damage path. But, what do you take?

 First and foremost is the essentials. No, I don't mean your stamp collection (unless it is particularly valuable or sentimental), I mean you take your box of paperwork and family photo albums. You take heirlooms that have been in the family for generations. You take the things you simply CAN NOT replace for any reasonable amount of money. Box it up, pack it, and keep it with you. My family keeps a box (affectionately known as the "box of crap") under our bed filled to capacity with my discharge paperwork from the military, medical records, birth certificates, social security cards, marriage license, insurance paperwork (though this is now all available online, a paper copy isn't a bad idea). In short, it is a box full of things we do not want to have to replace or do without. It stays loaded at all times, paperwork removed to make copies goes straight back in. We grab that one box, we know we have the important documents in one place.

 Firearms. Firstly, as a means of self defense, secondly to keep them from the hands of possible looters. A reasonable stock of ammo for the ones intended for self defense should be a given. I wouldn't in good conscience leave anything more capable than a BB gun home.

Food, water, toiletries. I would bring a reasonable amount of food and water with you. Even though the whole point of evacuating is to remove yourself and your family from the area where interruptions in the food and water supply are likely, you are most likely evacuating with thousands if not hundreds of thousands of other people. A sudden population influx could strain grocery stores. Best to bring some with you. Having to do without food, water, and toilet paper becomes quite uncomfortable very quickly.

Clothing, and everything else. I would suggest packing for comfort and utility, not fashion. You're an evacuee, you're not going to walk the runway at a fashion show. Keep things in perspective, and leave anything with special washing instructions at home. If room permits, I'd suggest packing a minimum of tools (working on cars, fixing things, you never know), extra fluids for the vehicle (a quart of oil and a gallon of coolant will save you from being stranded on a road side, at least get you to a gas station), things to entertain kids (and adults), and anything you could conceivably consider needing for at least one week. The idea isn't that you're never going home (I pray that doesn't become an eventuality), but that you need to be prepared to rough it for an extended period.

Most of all, keep your common sense and your wits about you. Panic kills far more than disasters, and poor planning in a situation like this can turn a bad situation to lethal very quickly. I would encourage each of you to read this and take it to heart, leave me your feedback if you feel I missed something, and start having this conversation with your families TONIGHT if you haven't already. - Phil Rabalais

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