Thursday, June 28, 2012

How to Prioritize An Evacuation List

The current fires in Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Montana, and a small fire in the hills above my own Farmington home a week ago have motivated me to update our evacuation list. It is always better to plan an evacuation when your mind is clear, rather than during an actual life threatening event.

I made an attempt to update our family list yesterday, but I don't feel it's done. However, I shared it with my daughter and she encouraged me to post it anyway to get people thinking. 
Every time I do this activity, I realize I am not as prepared as I'd like to be. Makes me a bit crazy. However, at least we are improving. If someone were to knock on your door and say you had a few minutes to evacuate, would you be ready?

Honestly, I have never evacuated. So this activity is something I have to imagine, and it always gets my heart racing. Even though I don't have a baby anymore, I assumed I could be watching one of my grandchildren, so you will see baby things on the lists. 

How to Prioritize an Evacuation List
  1. List the most important items you want to take with you. Just brainstorm and start writing.
  2. Then divide the big list into four smaller lists. What you would take if you had 5 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes or 1 hour to evacuate. Use your imagination.
  3. Then arrange your items within those smaller lists in the order you would grab them in your home to save the most time. I decided to go upstairs, and work my way down. You may not have an upstairs. So choose a part of your house to go to first.  
  4. If you end up with 15 minutes to evacuate, then grab items on both the 5 minute list and the 15 minute list based on location. Or if you have 30 minutes, grab from the 5 minute list, the 15 minute list and the 30 minute list. And so forth.
  5. Practice the evacuation with your family. (We still need to practice).
  6. Copy the list several times and post in various locations in your home.
See my updated post here with a handout.

Below is an Example
External hard drive
Safe (docs/cash in black bag)
Baby bag
Child’s stroller
Dog leash & Pet 72-hour kit
Car/house Keys
Purse or wallet (you need ID)
Cell phone

15 MINUTES (add these)
Prescription meds
Cell phone charger
Pants, shirt, underwear, socks
Laptop (kitchen)
Case of bottled water
Family memory bins
Sleeping bags

30 MINUTES (add these)
First aid kit (linen closet)
Family portraits
Cooler with snacks
Blankets (FR basket)
Blue water jug


  1. Valerie, we had wildfires in Texas where I live last Fall. In fact, we had three different times where we thought we may need to evacuate. Once my husband was away yet in 15 minutes, I was able to have everything ready to go. Praise the Lord we didn't have to leave.

    We made two copies of our evacuation list, one of which I have taped to the inside of my kitchen cabinet. For those who have cats, load them first in their carriers. When you start rushing around, they will get scared and hide.

    Also, on our list we have the address & phone number of a motel in the next town where we will meet. Now, I realize we must have a meeting place in the opposite direction as well.

    This is a great post. Thank you for all the thought and help you provide. When I log on and see an email from you, it's the first one I read.

  2. Thank you so much! This is exactly what has been on my mind as I watched not only the flooding in Northern MN, but the CO fires as well. I appreciate all your organization and willingness to pass on your knowledge! Blessings-

  3. Can I include this post in a Relief Society Newsletter I do for our ward about Emergency Preparedness? i think this is great- Janelle

    1. Thank you so much- I will give credit and reference this posting. Thanks for your efforts in helping all of us be better prepared.

  4. Thank you so much for posting this. All of these fires have put a fire under me, so to say. I am finally going through our 72 hour kits and updating them, and Love the suggestion of making priority lists. Thanks again!

  5. I was thinking about this also--thinking on where to start. When you are in an emergency situation you can't think so having a list will be very helpful and having things in their right places!! Thank you for all of the time and effort you spend on your blog, I check it very often!! Thanks Kristin

  6. This past week was evacuated due to a wildfire in Helena, MT, while my husband was at Girl's Camp. Our plan has always been 1st turn on the underground sprinklers in the backyard, 2nd load the 72 hour kits, 3rd grab the documents file which I did. Then my cousin from town called and drove a very round about way to our house to take the heirlooms. When evacuated the next day didn't have any regrets. Always a good idea to have a plan.

  7. This is so helpful! I have a mental list but your idea of having a printed list to grab and go through is very valuable.

    Thank you for pointing this out.

  8. Thanks so much for this blog
    Your printables are so helpful. May we have them in excel or word format so we can edit them for our families needs? Thanks again

  9. I just uploaded the Excel format of the list. I don't have it in Word. Hope that helps.

  10. Valerie, I just found your blog and have to say THANK YOU. You are wonderful, WONDERFUL. :) Your weekly goals are not overwhelming and so thorough. I can do this :) I am a newly called Provident Living Specialist in our ward. Do you mind if I use some of your weekly ideas to get our ward enthused without feeling overwhelmed?!

    1. Lindsy, Use what you need for your ward. Welcome!

  11. I love the emergency preparedness of most Mormons! There's a lot about the group/religion that I like, but also a lot that just seems too far out there.
    Great page you have here! We live 50 miles from the Paradise fire.

    1. Sorry for my slow response. Just figured out how to respond to comments on my phone. Thanks for sharing. Hope you'll keep following. 👍


Thanks for your comments and suggestions!