- By: Randy W (via M.D. Creekmore)
- Posted on: March 24, 2014
One topic that I have not seen a lot of coverage on in recent years is the topic of getting one’s home prepared just prior to running out the door due to a forced evacuation or a “Bug Out” scenario.
If you live in an area susceptible to Hurricanes, tropical storms tidal waves, Wild fires and the like there will certainly be public service announcements, and News programs contain many of the things I am discussing here but in a situation where you do not have a large “ time budget”, due to impending disaster, there are several things that should be addressed (if there is time to do so) prior to evacuating your home. (Please note all of these procedures should be followed if sufficient warning allows for the time to do so).
Personal property and belongings can always be replaced, take care of your loved ones and their safety as the first priority, then if there is time address these measure to prevent your home from sustaining additional non-storm related damaged caused by a compromised utility or system in your home.
First of all, I believe it is essential to leave you home as secure as possible being certain to remove, or secure any pets, cash, jewelry, valuable papers, documents firearms and ammunition. If possible, rare antiques, and valuable should be wrapped, boxed or protected, where they will be out of harm’s way. In case of potential flooding any and all household items that can be moved, should be placed on upper floors of the home rather than left in the basement or on the first floor if applicable. Valuable Items that cannot be moved or taken away should be left out of sight. If valuable electronics or furniture can be seen from an open window then cover all windows and doors with the blinds, or curtains so no one has the ability to see the contents of your home.
If you live in areas where storm evacuations occur such as along the east coast, it is a good Idea to have functional storm shutters installed on windows that face the prevailing direction a storm will usually come from and have plywood (at least ½ inch thick) pre-cut to size to fit all other doors or windows not so equipped. Having plywood precut to size, and properly labeled in advance, can save valuable time and ensure protection is afforded if sufficient warning for such measures is given. If you are forced to leave your home for long periods of time, this practice that will not only protect your windows from windblown objects, wind compression damage, and hail, it will also offer some additional security, protection should the area be overrun by vandals, looters or marauders.
Another good Idea to protect your home prior to evacuation is to learn where the main water shut off is in order to prevent non storm related, water damage. Once the water main has been shut off, it is a good practice to test a low lying faucet to see if the water is off prior to departure (if the is sufficient time to do so). More than one home owner has returned from vacation or a short evacuation to find the exterior of their home in good condition but flooded from a damaged washing machine hose, ice maker water line or other non-storm related, water damage that could have been prevented if water to the home had been shut off.
In rare instances if you should be forced to evacuate your home in winter conditions or for extended periods of time, the water meter should be disconnected and capped, the supply lines should be drained, pressured cleared, and all drains filled with a few cups of RV anti-freeze. This will prevent pipes from bursting in colder climates. While this would be rare in most evacuation scenarios weather related steps should be taken. In most cases of short term evacuations the possibility of frozen water lines would be small, but it is of course weather dependent.
In an event of a possible Forced evacuation there may not be time to drain and winterize the lines but be aware there are conditions where this could be warranted.
One of the scariest cases of having to evacuate your home would be due to a possible wild fire looming in your area. The Local Fire Marshal may ask to have home owners leave their water on with garden hoses at the ready (should the home owner be forced to leave, at least the fire department would be able to douse the roof or siding should here be a save opportunity to do so). Each forced evacuation may be different and the Local authorities will announce their methodology for such an evacuation. This is by no means a comprehensive guide and is just mentioned for educational purposes.
In addition to shutting off water flow to the home in case of a Bug-out, the natural or LP gas supply to the home should be shut off at the meter or the LP tank dome.
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