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With the bushfires that were raging across Australia it’s got me thinking about the importance of evacuation. Many of the lives lost have been people, trapped in their homes, in their cars, as they fled the danger, but they’ve gotten stuck along the way. They didn’t get out soon enough, and the flames and the fire overtook them, with heartbreaking consequences.

It’s a sad story, and one that bears thinking about. Because in a crisis, a handful of minutes can make all the difference. You may escape the perimeter of a town before the army seals it off. You may make it over a bridge to safety before floodwater washes it away. You may get out of your home before the rioters reach you, and you’re able to make it to safety.

Central to all of this is speed, and in today’s post I’d like to share some practical tips to help you evacuate faster. So, you’re not running around trying to collect “everything” until you’ve run out of time and it’s too late, you’re ready and on the road in minutes. Yep, minutes. Here’s how we do it.

Pre-pack everything you’ll need

On the one hand, you never know when a SHTF-like event can happen, so you should always be ready. But if you’ve got advance warning, like tornado season or the news giving you a heads up of a localized disaster heading your way, pre-pack everything you’ll need. We’ve got a tub-storage system in our garage that’s essentially our SUV-bug-out kit. All I need to do is grab the four main tubs (two of food, one’s camping gear and the last is all the other suppliers), and that’s it. Then there’s the water tank, and some extra fuel and we’re done.

By pre-packing, we’re able to be out of bed and in a fully packed car, in under 10 minutes. That’s pretty damn good. And it also ensures we don’t “forget” anything as I’m sure we would if we were frantically trying to rush and grab everything we need as we run out the door.

Know what else you need to grab

Now, it’s not possible to pre-pack everything, and there’s a few extra items we will need to grab. But I’ve tried to make this as simple as possible.

In our hallway cupboard we’ve got our hiking boots and a set of clothes laid out for everyone (so we’re not rummaging looking for things if we’re evacuating in the middle of the night), we can simply get dressed and run out the door.

Then is all the personal stuff. We’ve got a go-bag in our safe with cash, passports and all our important ID (it’s stored like this so we can grab it and run), and then we each get our own bug out bag, that hangs in that same cupboard by the back door. And of course, I’ll empty my gun safe and bring all of my weapons and ammunition with me too. Because the biggest danger when we’re out on the road like this is going to be all the other desperate people.

Keep your car ready to go

It drives my wife slightly crazy, but I never, and I mean ever, let the gas on the car drop below half. When it does, I swing by the station and get her filled up again. It’s not just for peace of mind, but by doing this I know, that no matter what has happened that day, or that week, we’ve got at least enough fuel in the tank to get us a hundred or so miles away.

Same goes for servicing, you need to keep your car in good working order. So, do all of your regular oil changes, get it checked when it needs to be done, serviced every year, and keep an eye on things that may wear out like the tires. Your car will be your lifeline if you need to evacuate and it needs to be ready to go at a moment’s notice.

Have a destination in mind

So, with the car loaded and everyone in, it’s time to hit the road. But you need a destination. You can’t simply drive around aimlessly, especially if it’s the middle of the night. You need a plan, and some idea of how to get there. This is where thinking ahead is a great idea, and for us, we’re heading straight for our bug out cabin. It’s a different one to the shack we built on our property (as we’re evacuating the area) and I’ve got no less than three different routes we can follow to get there, and I’ve test driven them all. I know exactly where I’m going, and any workarounds we may need to face should the situation change.

Have a backup plan

And if all goes to hell and we need another destination entirely, we’ve planned this out too. Our backup bug out location is my in-laws place, it’s a few hundred miles further, and that brings challenges of its own. Like, having enough fuel in the car to get there, without relying on a gas station being open in the middle of the night. What we’ve done is setup caches at a halfway point, with enough hidden fuel to refill our main car twice over. The extra tanks can be brought along (they’re just jerry cans), but it gives me peace of mind. I know exactly where I’m going, which means I can drive faster. Faster than I would if I had no clue.

Speeding up your evacuation when the SHTF is all about being prepared and planning in advance. The more you can think of now, the less stress you’ll face when it all goes down because all you’ll need to do is implement the plan. You’re not trying to solve anything mid-crisis, you’re simply going step-by-step and sticking to the plan. And in a crisis, when time matters the most, you’ll be well out of dodge before your neighbors have even finished loading their car.

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