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5 Essential Ways to Prepare For a Storm Evacuation

5 Essential Ways to Prepare For a Storm Evacuation

It wasn’t too many years ago when a nor’easter bore down on my coastal Connecticut home. I didn’t realize the beach and my road had flooded until I saw emergency lights flashing and stepped into a foot of brackish water. The next moment, a fire fighter lifted me into the rescue truck sent to fetch numb-nuts like me.

I swore never again to be caught with my emergency preparedness down. Here’s what I do, and you should do, before it’s too late.

Make a Grab-’n-Go Box

It’s hard to think of essentials when wind and water are swirling around you. That’s why it’s important to prepare an emergency box you can just throw into the car and skedaddle.

Here’s what it should include.

  • First aid kit
  • Medications
  • List of medications, dosages, and prescribing doctor, in case you run out
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • Portable radio
  • Water, one gallon per person, per day
  • Non-perishable food for three days
  • Toilet paper and other personal hygiene items
  • Cell phone charger
  • Emergency cash and a credit card
  • Blanket
  • Candles and matches (in a sealable bag)
  • Extra set of house and car keys

What To Take For Pets

Many disaster shelters do not allow pets, unless they’re service dogs. So it’s important to locate pet-friendly lodging outside the emergency area. Keep a list of phone numbers, rates and addresses. Or ask friends and relatives outside your local area to take your pets in an emergency.

In a separate, sturdy box, place pet essentials.

  • A weeks worth of food (don’t forget a can opener for canned wet food)
  • Medication and medical records
  • Leashes and harnesses
  • Familiar and easily transportable toys and treats

What to Do When You Leave Your House

Prepare your house for a worst-case scenario.

  • Shut off water, electricity and gas.
  • Protect windows with plywood or storm shutters.
  • Remove items from your yard that could become missiles, like patio furniture, bird feeders, and play equipment.
  • Move valuables you can’t take with you to the highest floor (flood), or the basement (tornado).
  • Tape a note to an inside door stating your phone number, when you left, and where you went.
  • Lock all doors and windows.

How To Plan An Emergency Route

Before the storm arrives, map out where you’ll go during an evacuation and how you’ll get there. Also, decide on a meeting place in case family members can’t make it home in time for everyone to leave together.

  • Evacuate early to avoid getting trapped in a last-minute rush.
  • Listen to the radio, or sign up for telephone alerts that give you up-to-the-minute news.
  • Never drive through a washed out road; chances are, you’ll get stuck.
  • Follow established evacuation routes; don’t try shortcuts.

More Ounces of Prevention

  • Rent a safe deposit box at a bank where you can store your most important papers, like birth and marriage certificates, house deeds, car titles, immigration and citizenship papers, household inventory, and homeowners insurance policies. Keep copies at home in a waterproof box.
  • Make a video inventory of your possessions, which you’ll need to make insurance claims.
  • Scan receipts for high-ticket items and store them on The Cloud.

DIY Pet First Aid Kit

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Lisa Kaplan Gordon

Lisa Kaplan Gordon, creator of, is an award-winning journalist, avid gardener and fly-fisher. She lives in Northern Virginia on a half acre that always needs weeding. Please visit her on Twitter (@kaplan_lisa) and Facebook (Lisa Kaplan Gordon)


+ add your own
1:59AM PDT on Jul 10, 2014

thank you for sharing

11:35PM PDT on Jul 9, 2014

Thank you for the helpful tips!

9:49AM PDT on Jul 9, 2014

Thank you :)

3:50AM PDT on Jul 9, 2014

Living in Texas, I find myself in need of tornado evacuation plans.

8:29PM PDT on Jul 8, 2014


2:54AM PDT on Jul 7, 2014


2:50AM PDT on Jul 7, 2014

Really good points. Very hard to think of 'in the moment' so a printed copy in an accessible place would work great.

11:59PM PDT on Jul 6, 2014

Thank you

12:15PM PDT on Jul 6, 2014

Thank you for the great tips.

1:56AM PDT on Jul 6, 2014

thanks for sharing this

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