Fast Exit Tips

Hurricane Ian’s wake of destruction was a sudden wake-up call for many people. The reality is that at any time, we might have to leave our homes — leaks, fires, sudden illnesses, extreme cold or heat, accidents, natural disasters, and more. The situation begs two questions: What is most important to you; and what essentials will you need?

A Bit Like Downsizing

Preparing for an emergency has many similarities with the process of successfully downsizing. And, as with downsizing, emergency preparedness starts with values — what can you carry that means the most to you? It is all about the essence of the lives we have lived.

Consider keeping an empty tote bag in an easy-to-reach place like an entry closet. Enclose a list of the items you have decided you most want to keep; items that give you joy. Likely these are items you want to see and have available while you live routinely in your home, so the list is a reminder of what needs to be grabbed in emergency departures. 

The Happy To-Go Bag

If you get an evacuation order because of storm or have been taken to a hospital, either you can gather up the items or direct someone else to get the things of deep value to you. Having a place for these items also is the first step in sorting what stays and what goes when you downsize your home. Here are some suggestions to consider:

  • Photos — Albums or small framed pictures that hold valued memories
  • Ownership — Papers that document ownership of home, vehicles and insurance
  • Gifts — Small treasures that remind you of special moments and people
  • Medications — List of daily meds and on-hand supply

Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can

That’s the official federal government slogan. So give it a try. Talk with family, neighbors and friends in order to create a communication plan for how everyone will stay in touch before, during, and after any emergency or natural disaster. Make sure the plan also includes the most up-to-date recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The people in your support network should know where the emergency supplies and the To Go Bag are kept in your home. That’s the big payoff for having planned ahead!

Build a Supplies Kit

After developing a plan, next on the to-do list is to prepare a kit of needed supplies. In fact, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s website suggests preparing multiple kits: one for home that can be quickly grabbed in order to evacuate quickly; one for a workplace if applicable, with supplies for at least 24 hours; and one for the car, in the event of being stranded.

According to Homeland Security, the basic supplies needed for a home disaster kit include:

  • Water (a gallon per person per day, plus extra for pets)
  • Food (at least a several-day supply of non-perishable food for humans and pets)
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Extra batteries
  • Whistle (to signal for help)
  • Dust mask (to help filter contaminated air)
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape (to shelter in place)
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties (for personal sanitation)
  • Wrench or pliers (to turn off utilities)
  • Manual can opener (for food)
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery

Other items can be added based on personal needs. Examples include masks, soap, and disinfecting wipes; prescription medications (for humans and their pets); non-prescription medications; prescription eyeglasses and/or contact lenses; cash or traveler’s checks; a sleeping bag or blanket for each person; matches in a waterproof container; and a change of clothes and shoes. It’s OK to have duplicates, especially such items as toothbrushes, clothes, and medications.

After the kits are assembled and in their storage places, don’t forget about them. Replace expired items as needed, rethink needs and update the kit annually as needed, and otherwise maintain the kit so that it really is ready at a moment’s notice.

A free comprehensive guide on disaster preparedness also is available.

OK, Boomers, let’s get going on the Happy Bag and the Supplies Kit. Be thoughtful. You are selecting the items that are the essence of keeping both your body and your soul together in times of crisis. It’s worth getting right!


  1. Michael S. Bernard on October 17, 2022 at 2:34 pm

    This informative article is quite useful and worth sharing widely.

  2. Michael S. Bernard on October 17, 2022 at 2:36 pm

    This is interesting, quite useful, and good for sharing.

  3. Susan Stockard on October 17, 2022 at 8:11 pm

    I’m reading this while visiting family on the coast of South Carolina. Great and timely advice!

  4. Kathy Faircloth on October 21, 2022 at 8:24 am

    Humans still maintain the attitude of “it won’t happen to me”. Great advice to have a plan so when you’re in a panic you can still feel in control with some simple preparation.

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