Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Document Evacuation Bag

The name brand version of these bags are the "Harvard Document Bag".  For our purposes, any light, flexible and distinctive looking document bag will work, and last many years. Note that I can carry the document file draped across my shoulder, the evacuation medical kit in one hand, and one backpack on me.  This means that one other backpack can be carried by my husband, and the kids can carry personal items and animal supplies.

              By now, most of you have a Medical Supply Closet, an Evacuation Medical Bag, a General Evacuation Bag, and we must consider another variety.   This is a "Document Evacuation Bag".    Many of us keep essential documents in a safe deposit box or even a safe, but if you left your home, and a tornado or a flood hit and you never could return to your home, or simply never did, you would need a variety of documents. I formulated one of these some time ago, and it lives in a hidden home safe, so that it could depart with us quickly if need be.  (Make sure that you and another member of your household can open the safe quickly. Practice if necessary.)

            Some of the things contain in mine are:

       Original copies of birth certificates        (Other Originals are in a safe deposit box)
       Original copy of marriage certificate  (Yes, they had them back in the Dark Ages)
        Social Security Cards, if not just numbers
       Copies of university transcripts and copies of college degree diplomas
       Copies of professional licenses
       Very small typed listing of all banking and insurance information (house, car, health etc.) and account numbers.
       (Some people include a flash drive with this information as a backup as well.)
       Discs with family photos on them.
       Property Deed copies  (and a survey if you have room)
       Vehicle Deed copies.
       Blank checks, banking paperwork
       We also have a disc with our farm, rooms, and possessions documented should we ever need to claim on our insurance.

   We also keep a small file with    Called Health Evacuation File which includes

   1. Brief health histories for each family member,
   2. Med sheet for each family member
   3. Physician and dentist listing, and pharmacy contact info for each family member
   4. Pictures of each person
   5. We also keep xerox copies of any long term prescriptions we are on, in the event that we ever had to evacuate this area and prove that we were taking certain medications.

You may wish to add:
       Legal Documents
       Tax information if needed

 Remember that this is a starting point.  Different families and individuals will need to configure different types of Document Evacuation Kits.

Details and complete information on this topic can be found in my book:


        Rational Preparedness: A Primer to Preparedness

which is available on, 


Once you have gathered the kits we have discussed, courtesy of :
They recommend the following:


  •  ___  Close evacuation car windows but DO NOT LOCK CAR and leave keys in ignition
  •  ___  Close fire resistant window coverings, heavy drapes, and Venetian blinds
  •  ___  Close garage door but leave it unlocked (disconnect automatic garage door opener)
  •  ___  Close or cover outside vents and shutters
  •  ___  Cose sliding glass doors into the center of the house (DON'T lock them)
  •  ___  Determine where separated members will meet
  •  ___  Disconnect propane tank
  •  ___  Don't tie up telephone lines (notify friends and relatives by e-mail where to contact you)
  •  ___  Establish an evacuation plan, travel route, probable destination
  •  ___  Fill bathtubs, sinks, and containers with water
  •  ___  Fill evacuation vehicle gas tank
  •  ___  Follow any official agency's evacuation instructions
  •  ___  If instructed, tie large white cloth to front door knob
  •  ___  Leave one light on in each general area so firefighters can see your house in dark and smoke
  •  ___  Lock doors and windows
  •  ___  Make safety equipment obvious for firefighters (spigots, ladders, chain saws, hoses, etc.)
  •  ___  Move overstuffed furniture away from windows
  •  ___  Park evacuation vehicle in the garage heading toward street and travel route
  •  ___  Place a ladder against the roof of the house on the side opposite the approaching fire
  •  ___  Plug air vents and openings that are close to the ground
  •  ___  Prepare an "information note" to leave on the door detailing who you are and where you have gone
  •  ___  In your "information note" tell where flammables are (such as lawnmower gas, ammo, chemicals - move them all into one place)
  •  ___  Release any livestock in the area
  •  ___  Remove combustible items from around the outside of the house
  •  ___  Remove lace, nylon, or light material drapes and curtains
  •  ___  Soak burlap sacks, small rugs, or large rags in containers
  •  ___  Turn off appliances, thermostats, fireplaces, stoves
  •  ___  Turn off natural gas at meter
  •  ___  Turn on exterior lights

  •  ___  Clear debris from roof and gutters
  •  ___  Clear driveway to at least 20 feet wide with 15 feet vertical clearance (for emergency vehicles)
  •  ___  Clear vegetation from within 3 feet of hydrants
  •  ___  Clear weeds and cut grass within 10 feet of structures, propane tanks, utility boxes
  •  ___  Develop outdoor water supply with hoses to reach entire house, nozzle, and pump
  •  ___  Document an annotated list of all belongings
  •  ___  Have fire tools, ladder, and fire extinguishers available
  •  ___  Install chimney screen or spark arrestor
  •  ___  Install enclosed sides on stilt foundations and decks
  •  ___  Install only non-combustible roof material
  •  ___  Install screens on foundation and eave vents
  •  ___  Install shutters, fire curtains, or heavy drapes on windows
  •  ___  Install smoke detectors and test quarterly
  •  ___  Keep evacuation vehicle gas tank full
  •  ___  Make a video of all belongings, talking about each
  •  ___  Post load limits on access bridges
  •  ___  Post name/address signs clearly visible from street or road
  •  ___  Practice family fire drill and evacuation plans
  •  ___  Practice STOP, DROP, and ROLL (should clothes catch on fire)
  •  ___  Prepare a list of valuables to take with you (store together, if possible)
  •  ___  Remove branches that overhang withing 15 feet of roof and chimney
  •  ___  Remove trash and debris accumulations
  •  ___  Remove trees growing through porch, deck, or roof
  •  ___  Stack firewood uphill or on a contour at least 30 feet away from house
  •  ___  Take still pictures of all belongings as a backup
  •  ___  Thin and prune your trees and brush


The suggestions within the two sets of undulating lines are the work product of