Submissions     Contact     Advertise     Donate     BlogRoll     Subscribe                         

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What Would You Take if You Had to Evacuate? How to Create a Grab & Go List

What would you take if you had to evacuate? Many people do not think clearly during times of stress and panic, so a well thought out Grab and Go List created before an emergency could greatly assist you. It should have items listed by priority because you do not know how much time you will have to evacuate. Not all evacuations can be planned in advance like hurricane evacuations. You could get a knock on the door in the middle of the night and be told you have a few minutes to leave. You may never experience an evacuation, but you can learn from the experiences of others. Most will tell you that the better planned you are, the fewer regrets you will have.

Consider these things when planning your Grab & Go list:

1. Who is important to you?
2. What is important to you?
3. What would you need if you are gone for a few days to a week?
4. If everything in your home were to disappear, what items would make starting over easier?

The first time I sat down to write my list, it was short. As I researched and read other people's evacuation stories, my list grew and grew. You may have a similar experience. However, as much as you want to, you know you cannot take everything.

How to Organize Your Grab and Go List:

1. List items which are important and essential to you. It could be a list of random thoughts at first. That's fine. I will be listing some evacuation stories in another post that may help you come up with other ideas.

2. Next, prioritize your items into four groups. Items at the top of your list are your absolute essential things to grab if you had 5 minutes to evacuate. Items in the middle are those you would add if you had a total of 10 minutes. Items towards the bottom are things that would be nice to have if you had 30 minutes. And those in the last group are items you would gather if you had a few days to prepare. Take it from me. You will be switching items from one group to the other and back again.

3. List the location of the item next to it, and then sort within each group based on areas of your home. This will prevent you from running all over your home only to pass up items in the same area. Try to imagine running through your home gathering items. This got my adrenaline going. As I did this sorting and thinking process I realized that I wanted to move items into different areas of my home for easier access. I also wanted to put some items, like our old journals, in easy to grab containers. I even decided that I would photograph the pages of my kids scrapbooks and put them on CD rather than grabbing the 20+ of them.

4. Ask other family members what things in their rooms are the most important and irreplaceable to them. Pay attention to what children say. You may not be able to take everthing they ask for, but in a stressful situation "Mr. Rabbit" may be just the thing they need. Find a place on your list for these items as well.

5. Make several copies of the list and post it in several places in your home such as upstairs, downstairs, or on either end of your home. You could post these on the backs of doors. You may change this list again and again, but the important thing is to spend some time working on it as soon as possible. Keep a copy of your list in your cell phone by emailing it to yourself since you may get a call from a kind neighbor who wants you to tell him what to take if you are not at home.

6. Do a practice evacuation with your family and use your list. You could assign different family members to gather different items. You could also practice with all of them, and then with only a few of them. I would probably practice with and without my husband. Let me add some humor here because sometimes my posts get too serious. One of my favorite I Love Lucy episodes is the one where Lucy gets ready to go to the hospital to have her baby. I love the scene where Ricky, Fred and Ethel practice the moment that Lucy will tell them "the time has come!" They each have their assignments and practice several times. They are so excited at how efficient they are until the time actually comes. It is quite hilarious. Hopefully your planned evacuation will go much more smoothly, but it helps to see what happens when people get overly excited.

*Update your list twice a year.

Well, these are my thoughts. If you have other ideas, please comment. Here is my prioritized and color coded Grab and Go List in PDF and Excel. I just added another column for what floor items are on.



  1. My Husband and I are working on this right now. Check out my Blog for our plan to evacuate our 4 Dogs!

    Thanks for the PDF!

  2. Some great tips. I've always tried to figure this out off the top of my head, but never really tried writing it down (though I know I should).

    I especially like the idea of photographing important photos/scrapbooks which may be too cumbersome to grab the real versions of and putting them on CD.

    Thanks for posting this!