Emergency Exits: Getting to a Safe Place in a Crisis

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Do you remember the last time you were in a really awful traffic jam?  Getting stuck in backed up traffic is one of the things I dread most about going downtown to a baseball game.  Now imagine what a mass exodus from your neighborhood, town or city would be like if a disaster of any type hit.  Thousands of panicked people hitting the streets and freeways all at once is a disaster waiting to happen.  Throw in some winter weather, summer heat, and woefully unprepared motorists, and the result could be a deathtrap.

There are two ways to avoid this scenario.  One is to evacuate ahead of the crowds.  Use your own judgment, and trust your instincts.  Be ready with packed luggagepet carriers, food, water and a plan.  If you wait until government officials say, “Go!”, you’ve waited too long.  You will almost certainly have to deal with massive crowds of people all headed in the same direction.

A second way to avoid being trapped in an evacuation is to have several pre-planned Emergency Exits that will get you safely from Point A to Point B.  Ideally, those routes will include detours.  It’s very likely that your planned route will run into unforeseen obstacles, and you’ll have to make swift adjustments to your route.

Right now, could you identfy at least three ways to make an emergency exit from your town or city?  If you were miles from home and had to evacuate, what route would you take and where would you go?  What if you were at work and needed to get home to your family?  Do you know several routes you could take in case you hit any roadblocks?

Here are eight steps to help insure a safe and speedy evacuation.

  1. Get a detailed road map of your area and road maps for neighboring states.
  2. Determine at least one destination, a place at least 100 miles from your home, as your safe place.
  3. With your maps and a marker, identify various routes you could take from your home to your destination.  Look for possible detours in case you hit a roadblock or standstill traffic.  Events such as earthquakes and violent storms quickly result in roadblocks.
  4. Using a city map, identify at least three different routes you could take from your place of work to your home.
  5. Take time to actually travel each route you have plotted out.  Watch for potential problem areas, such as water routes that may fill to overflowing in a flood.
  6. Label each route you have planned.  In an emergency, you can communicate to family members, “We’ll be taking Route A,” for example.
  7. Make more than one copy of your planned Emergency Exits.  Store copies in each vehicle, each workplace, at home, and at least one with an out-of-town friend or relative.
  8. Make a plan to get additional fuel for your vehicle.  In emergencies, gas stations quickly run out of gas.  In the event of an electrical outage, gas pumps don’t work!

Take the time to plan Emergency Exits for you and your family.  They might come in handy the next time you’re caught in a traffic jam, and in the case of a true emergency, they could be a life saver.

There may be links in the post above that are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission, which does not affect the price you pay for the product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 

© Copyright 2010 The Survival Mom, All rights Reserved. Written For: The Survival Mom
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I'm the original Survival Mom, and have been helping moms worry less and enjoy their homes and families more for 5 years. Come join me on my journey to becoming more prepared to handle everyday emergencies and worst case scenarios.

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  1. says

    Nice summary of an evacuation plan!

    I agree that it's so important to use your own judgment and awareness in these situations instead of relying on someone else to keep you safe or on a government that may never come (see Katrina). As preparedness-minded people it is ultimately up to us to keep our family safe.

  2. says

    Brilliant article! Many people do not even think ahead to the planning stage until it is too late.

    Case and Point: When Hurrican Ike hit Houston a few years back – my sister's family was evacuating to my home in Dallas, TX. They waited until the government told them to leave and were at a virtual stand still on the highway for hours — with three small kids, two big dogs and a 3 cats. Needless to say, they were stressed when they made it to my house.

    Play it safe and Prepare, Plan and Practice until the plan in memorized. When unplanned emergencies happen, most people go into panic mode and cannot think straight. You want to be as level headed as possible.

    Thanks for the article. It was a great read!

    Tess Pennington

    • says

      Thanks, Tess! I was actually thinking of Hurricane Ike when I wrote that article. I've read some horror stories written by people who evacuated. Glad your sister and family made it to your house in one piece! :o)


    • rightwingmom says

      So true! Rita exac. was a disaster itself! My brother-in-law evacuated his family 1 hour before required. They were trying to get to Dallas, but were stuck for 14 hours in north Houston. The only a few snacks stores were closed or out of gas and food. My sister-in-law said she felt like they were in a third world country.

      We managed to detour them to our house. ( We're far enough north that we chose to stay and ride out the storm.) I will NEVER underestimate the ability for our society to panic and fall into complete chaos!!!

  3. says

    Topographical maps are also good to have, although it can be hard to find them. This link is to one for search results for "Atlas & Gazeteer" on amazon.com. It took me a bunch of tries to finally get any results, so this should save anyone who's interested some effort. If you have a tope map, you can plan a route that reduces how many bridges and big hills you need to deal with. Reading one is also a good skill to teach your kids.

    • says

      Here in Arizona I worry a bit about getting caught in a flash flood or our car getting stuck in sand if we ever went off-road. Topographical maps have been on my To Do list for a while now. Thanks for the link!

  4. inaminute says

    Hey SurvivalMom, I actually had an experience a little like this over twenty years ago, except I was going in the opposite direction–I was trying to get an ill parent home when an ice/snow storm began. We were in the city going to our home in the suburbs, a trip that normally took 15-20 minutes. That January day it took over 3 hours. We spent a lot of time sitting in traffic, of course, and I took several alternate routes to avoid traffic pileups and icy hills. At one point, when we couldn't get up a rise, I saw a street on the right. I'd never driven on it before, but I pulled a map from the glove compartment and learned that it led to another less-traveled road I could use to get home. I was the first car to drive on it since the snow fell, and there were no tracks to follow; I just stayed between the mailboxes. We finally got home and went to bed. We had some water with us, but a major problem was going to the bathroom. It was a nightmare I'll never forget.

    • says

      I've had a couple similar experiences. One happened when I was single and owned a Volkswagon bug. I was such an inexperienced winter driver and had no idea what to do when my little car couldn't make it up snowy hills. I was finally able to get to a Sears where I discovered they didn't have chains in stock that fit my tires. Naturally, being the experienced shopper that I was, I asked if I could just buy bigger tires that WOULD fit the chains they had available. I'll never forget the look the salesman gave me. In the end, I gave up and went to a Denny's where I sat until my parents came and picked me up. How old was I at the time? 27! But my incredible mom and dad drove two hours to help out their little girl. awwww…

  5. Roxy2711 says

    One thing to keep in mind when storing additional gas is that if you live in a state that requires more ethanol in the gas (10% or more) that gas doesn't store for as long because ethanol absorbs water…so if you live in one of those states you will need to rotate your gas reserves about every 8-12 months.

  6. says

    It is excellent. I startedhttp://www.urbansurvivalskills.com from the urging of people I have been helping get prepared. Lots of great sites out there on the web including Survival Mom. If the Mom's aren't not on board, then the plan will fall apart.

    "evacuate ahead of the crowds" – great advice; may be hard to do. The majority of people will wait and hope things get better. The After Armageddon video series depicts a family with this mindset, or perhaps you could call it lack of surival mindset. A Decision Matrix that lists conditions, events or situations with your resulting response leading up to Bugging Out may help some people. Not only waiting on the Government to tell you what to do,..stay put or go to a FEMA center, is a bad idea.,…I think following their directions is a bad idea. Be self responsible. Trust me I know, I work for the government (I really do). Note: I have posted the After Armageddon series on my site with lessons learned comments or they are viewable on You Tube.

    "Route Planning" – good advice from you. The way we state it, is to have route plans using the PACE system: Primary, Alternate, Contingency and Emergency. These routes need to the less traveled routes and best if devoid of choke points or places where the traffic pattern would naturally bunch up. You also need to identify chokepoints because they are natural places for ambushes by criminals or even groups of citizens turned desperate. Be hyper vigiliant when transiting through choke points. In the event of a pandemic, some small communities on your routes may have barricades to keep possibly infected people out. Best to have two vehicles or more, or be moving in a survival group or mutually support, even such as keeping watch when you change a flat tire. BTW – several spares with rims is a good idea.

    "Where would you go?" – Gotta have that destination, we call it a planned Safe Location, before you can plan routes. We think it has to be fairly remote or off the beaten track or refuge flow pattern. Has to have a water source. May be a relatives or friends farm or vacation cabin. Should be defensible, have escape routes of it's own. You could prepare this place by emplacing caches….not on site, but close by in case of your Safe Location being occupied by bad guys when you arrive, you could then still retrieve caches safely…and also support an emergency withdrawal from the Safe Location if occupation of it become untenable,….picture under attack by a Outlaw Motorcycle Group.

    "Additional Fuel for your vehicle"- we say to obtain a few extra five gallon or smaller fuel cans and place in your garage. When events or situations (listed on your Decision Matrix) dictate, then you fill up before the need. You can also store fuel all the time in these containers, however civilian fuel degrades and would have to be put into vehicles then replaced. When you do this often enough, moisture and dirt will eventually clog up your fuel filters and make your vehicle run bad if at all. Oh by the way, keeping some cash on hand as well as silver (maybe even gold) is a good idea. We think upon a collapse, cash will continue to be useful, albeit at greatly inflated prices, for a few days (remember those people who think things will get back to normal?). Then silver/gold will be useful, then barter items only, until things stabilize.

    • says

      Fantastic comments! Thanks so much for your input. The fuel storage plan I suggest is to begin with one or two fuel cans, add one or two when you can, and begin a rotation process. Having 20-30 gallons at any one time on hand is an easy way to make sure you can get where you're going when others can't. Your suggestion of traveling in groups is a good one. I hadn't thought of that, except that when you leave your home, you become are refugee and vulnerable. None of us ever want to be in that situation. Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting. I'll check out your site and your comments on "After Armageddon."

  7. greg says

    Not withstanding the good advice, the comments seem to be from mostly citidiots…

    So I am guessing the author ment it for them.

    I found the overall post to be for those who have no clue as to staying alive in a situation that requires much more than a half spoken tally of things to think about.

    I am being critical but Darwin wasn’t a moron.

  8. says

    Great post. There are plenty of information brought by the writer. It was pointed out the techniques to survive and find a place when emergency situations strikes. But yea I agree that sometimes when we get panic we are not able to adopt on the situation and find ourselves lost and possible death awaits. But as we prepare we might have good chances to survive!

    survival food


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