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As I was watching the rescue operations following Hurricane Harvey I heard a woman being rescued from a flooded home say, “ I just have my wallet and phone. I didn’t know what else to take”. How sad. It did make me wonder how many actually know what to take if they need to evacuate with only what they can carry.

As we have seen following disasters first responders and relief agencies are spread very thin. Often you are on your own for days or even weeks. You may not be able to return home and unfortunately in some cases you may never be able to return.

When you have time, the list of items to take can be long. However, when you have to leave quickly or as in the case of the recent hurricane in Houston, to be rescued, the list has to be short and include only what you are able to carry. What do you take?

Obviously the first thing you should grab is your 72 hour kit. Hopefully you have upgraded your kit to 120 hours worth of supplies. For those who have been diligent many of the following items will already be in your kit. If you haven’t already created a kit, make it a priority now. See 72 Hour Kits: A New Look Grabbing a kit full of most of what you will need will save time and frustration.

Remember, many homes flooded due to the release of water in a reservoir to keep it from busting. If you live near a reservoir, river, dam or levy, this could happen to you. Natural disasters requiring evacuation happen everywhere not just in hurricane country.

In Addition to a 72 hour (120 hour) kit:

  • Social Security card. Having your card will speed up the process of applying for and receiving government aid as well as insurance payments.
  • Credit cards. Often power will be out after a disaster and your cards will be useless until the power is restored. Once power is restored your cards will be essential as your cash will probably run out.
  • Cash: Speaking of cash, it is a must have. First, when power is out cash is king. Food, fuel, water, clothing, housing, all will require cash. Accumulate a cash reserve in your home. This may take some time depending on your financial situations and the extras you are willing to forgo for a short time. Whatever you decide to do begin now. Cash should be in small denominations, preferably no larger than ten dollar bills. This leads to the second reason for our stash, the inability of retailers to make change for larger bills. If everyone seeking items from a store have twenty dollar bills and you want a five dollar case of water the merchant may not have change. Are you willing to give up the water or will you forgo the change and pay the twenty dollars? You will not walk away for food and water when you are hungry and thirsty so be prepared with small denomination bills so change isn’t needed.
  • Insurance documents. It’s much easier to file a claim when you have the phone number of your agent and your policy number with you. See the important insurance tip on our Totally Ready facebook page and please share it.
  • Pink slip for all your vehicles and boats. You can’t file a claim for a vehicle if you can’t prove you own it.
  • Health records. Your doctor’s office may have sustained damage or they may be without power and the ability to access records. Records will be extremely important should a family member be injured and need medical attention.
  • Medical records for your pets.
  • Phone list. When charging your cell phone becomes impossible your phone numbers may not be available. Add a hard copy of important numbers to your 72 hour kits now and if you don’t have a kit print off a list and tape it to the inside of a cupboard door where it can be easily grabbed when leaving your home quickly.
  • Prescription medications. Several years ago a friend’s parents evacuated quickly due to a wildfire. By the time they returned home several days later they had spent over $300. on prescription medications. Mom fell and was admitted to the hospital. Since she didn’t have her medications she had to pay hospital prices for them the two days she was there. After being released they moved to their evacuation destination where they had to refill their prescriptions. One hundred dollars of prescription, a one month supply, ended up costing them over $300. This is extremely important if a family member is dependent on medication such as insulin.
  • Over the counter medications. You will have a headache, you may have intestinal upset, you may get a cold, etc.
  • Eye glasses and contact lenses. Neither are easily replaced. Don’t forget solutions that are needed with them.
  • Sun glasses.
  • Be sure everyone has shoes on, not sandals, as they leave home.
  • Cell phone with charger.

If you still have time

  • Change of clothing.
  • Extra socks.
  • Hat
  • Food that can be eaten without heat or water.
  • Hygiene items.

Most if not all of these items should be included in your 72 hour kit. Having most items in one place will make knowing what to take when leaving home less stressful.

Don’t be caught without a plan for a quick evacuation. Create a 72 hour kit, should really be a 120 hour kit, and place this list in an outside pocket where it can be easily accessed reminding you of items to grab not included in your kit. Place a copy in your preparedness binder.

Click here for help with your kit. 

For more help with other forms of kits and other self reliance items join us at Send Carolyn your questions there.