Evacuation List Items You May Overlook

by Tommy Grant

As preppers, most of us have bug-out bags packed and ready for emergency situations. Sometimes with an evacuation notice, though, you may have a small window of additional time to pack some more belongings. If you were told you had 30 minutes to leave your home, would you know what to grab?

Think About It Ahead Of Time

There are multiple reasons you could be forced to evacuate suddenly. Weather disasters, wildfires, civil unrest, and industrial accidents are all genuine possibilities. Knowing this, it’s only logical to include some thought on the subject in your preps. If you live in an area prone to a specific type of disaster, you’ll want to give forethought an even more prominent place in your training.

Consider walking through each room and writing a small sticky note with the items that are most important for each space. Leave the note inside a cabinet or drawer where you can access it quickly for reference if needed.

Be sure to take pictures of the contents of every room in your home (and outbuildings). Get close-up photos of things of great value. You won’t be able to grab everything, and snapshots will be extremely useful when filing any post-disaster insurance claims.

Irreplaceable Items

  • Family Bible – Some families have family Bibles that date back hundreds of years and record births, deaths, and marriages for multiple generations. If you’re one of those families, this is probably worth dragging with you, especially if you feel there is a chance that you may not be able to return.
  • Jewelry – While jewelry is technically replaceable, many important pieces have sentimental value attached to them. Depending on your post-evacuation scenario, you may be glad to have the jewelry along for financial reasons, as well. Keep in mind that jewelry can often be an excellent bartering item.
  • Photos / Photo Albums (wedding albums, baby books, etc.) – While modern photos are primarily stored on a digital platform, many photos from years ago only exist as pictures or negatives. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.
  • Family Heirlooms – You probably don’t have time to pack grandma’s china, but there is probably time for something. Be sure to think about this ahead of time. You may even want to make a list in priority order so that you can grab the most important things first and others if time permits.

Hard To Replace Items

  • Heirloom seeds – Preppers are more likely than average folks to have a supply of heirloom seeds. Some people have been cultivating their collection over years, if not decades. If you have the time, grab them! It may be nearly impossible to source some of the seed varieties if they are destroyed in a disaster.
  • Firearms – You don’t want to forget your guns. Not only might you need them for protection, but you don’t want them stolen by potential looters who might be ransacking your place in your absence.
  • Spare Key Rack – This is another one with a dual purpose. Firstly, you will want to have all of your keys with you – the keys to the house, the cars, the shed, the safe, etc. You’ll need them when you have to reassess everything at a later date (hopefully!) Secondly, if looters come through your neighborhood before you can return, you certainly don’t want a full rack of keys sitting there for them to use to rob you more thoroughly!

Add important personal items to your evacuation list

Personal Items

  • Grab the dirty laundry basket! You heard me right. Grab that laundry basket full of dirty clothes. Why? Chances are, your favorite clothes are in there!
  • Prescription and OTC medications – The last thing you need is to have a medical condition flare up that could have been prevented while you are fleeing for your life.
  • Passports, birth certificates, legal documents
  • Diapers and formula – Keep an entirely separate bug-out diaper bag if you have a baby or toddler. Most of their needs are non-negotiable.
  • Pet supplies – You don’t want to throw Fido in the back of the truck and then realize you have no way to feed him 150 miles down the road.
  • Boots / Coats – Take a moment to assess what you are wearing, and if there’s no time to change your clothes, at least grab boots and a warm coat. No one wants to face the apocalypse in flip-flops.
  • Empty that underwear and sock drawer! – You’ll be glad to at least have a fresh supply of these each morning, even if your other clothing choices become limited.
  • Files/Flash drives – Keep all of your essential files on a flash drive. (Think wills, custody agreements, etc.) In an emergency, it will be easy to grab and throw in your pocket
  • Emergency binder – Most preppers have some semblance of an emergency binder at least started. If you don’t have one already, consider writing down important contact information and policy numbers at the bare minimum. It can be invaluable when you are suddenly faced with a dire situation and need to reach out to others.
  • Tool bucket – We keep a bucket and liner filled with the most commonly used tools in the garage. Space permitting, add this to your vehicle before you leave. Resourcefulness is often necessary in times like this, and some basic tools can help immensely.

Other Considerations

  • Ammo – There are a few reasons you don’t want to leave your ammo behind if you can help it. Depending on the reason for your evacuation (think wildfire), your ammo may explode in your absence. Also, as mentioned before, your house is vulnerable during an evacuation period, and you don’t want your ammo falling into the wrong hands.
  • Flammables (gas cans, kerosene, etc.) – It’s probably not a great idea to use up valuable space in your vehicle with large cans of gas, but I would top off any gas tanks at the bare minimum. Also, if you store your flammables anywhere near your house, try to get the cans as far away from your house as possible if you won’t be able to use them or take them all with you.
  • Cash – If you store any cash in your home, grab it! Once evacuated, your next few days or weeks may become very chaotic and unstructured. Having cash along may make some things more manageable. You also don’t want to risk having it back at your empty house for someone else to find and steal.

Don’t Forget Food & Water

  • Grab some water! Maybe you’ll have time to grab a case, a bottle, or even fill a jug. Grab something in case water or services are hard to come by. Make sure everyone in your group has enough on hand to last at least one day. In most evacuation situations, there shouldn’t be much trouble sourcing water once you have escaped the immediate area.
  • Food – Same goes for food. Time permitting, grab a cooler and throw an ice pack with some fridge items inside. At the bare minimum, grab a box of cereal bars out of the pantry. It’ll be nice to have plenty to snack on and not have to worry about eating those rock-hard calorie bricks at the bottom of your bug-out bags.

Final Thoughts

While we all hope that we will never have to face an evacuation scenario, we should all be prepared in case it comes to pass. Thinking about what things are most important to you ahead of time can save considerable time, energy, and heartache in the future!

Have you personally faced an evacuation situation? What did you get right, and what did you get wrong? Are there items you wished you had brought with you? Let us know in the comments!

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Evacuation List Items You May Overlook



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