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Life, as the saying goes, happens in a blink of the eye. The same can be said of emergencies. While we stress the importance of being prepared, we also realize that sometimes you just don’t get around to it…until that emergency hits and you need guidance.

The first thing to do is think of what you need and what’s important to you, and where it is located in your house. If family pictures are important but you don’t know where they are, will you waste too much time looking for them?

We’ve put together a checklist of items you might consider gathering in the event you and your family have to evacuate your home. Our list has many items that are generally considered essential and can be used as a starting point.

If you’ve been given a mandatory order to evacuate now, do so. You do not have time to gather anything but your family and pets and leave.

If you were told to be ready, then get ready now. If you have a family evacuation plan, follow it. If you don’t, start putting together your checklist and gathering your items. Have all your items packed and ready by the front door. Make sure you have enough room for everything in your vehicle. Be prepared to leave behind items that are not essential for your health and safety. This list is not complete, but if you only have a few minutes to get ready then gather as many items on your list as possible. If you have family members with special needs, make sure they are prepared as well and move them out before the mandatory order if you can.


  1. House and car keys.

  2. Shoes or boots—they should cover your whole foot. No open-toes or heels.

  3. Cash and ATM/bank cards.

  4. Adequate clothing for the weather conditions—jackets, boots and umbrellas for inclement weather, for example.

  5. Important papers—ID, passports, power of attorney, insurance, etc.

  6. Toilet paper—there may shortages where you end up staying, so bring a couple rolls, smashed down (to take up less space) and pack in a large zip top bag.

Family Communication:

  1. Contact a friend or family member outside the household who is not affected by the emergency. Let them know your plans and who from your household will be evacuating and where.

  2. Communicate your family emergency meeting place, in the event you get separated, to every member of the family, including children. If you’re separated, immediately go to the meeting place and wait until the rest of your family shows up.

  3. Pack power cords and chargers for phones and tablets, especially if you’re using them to get emergency information. Charge your devices now if you have time. Even charging your phone for 10 minutes can be valuable.

  4. Make sure your cell phones have Emergency Alerts activated.

Medication and Medical Devices/Supplies:

  1. Gather all medications and put in a zip lock bag and carry it in a backpack ‘go-bag’.

  2. If you use a CPAP or other specialty medical equipment and supplies, pack those as well.

  3. Extra eye glasses or contacts.

  4. Diapers, wipes, formula and other essential items for family members who need them.

  5. First-Aid kit.

  6. Non-medical masks.


  1. Put collars/harnesses on dogs and gather leashes and cat/pet carriers and store them by the front door. Make sure all pets are indoors until it’s time to leave.

  2. Grab vaccination records and tags

  3. Pack pet meds and food and water.

  4. Litter tray and litter and puppy pads.

Food and water:

  1. Depending on the emergency you may be displaced to a location with limited supplies or fresh resources, so consider 1-gallon of water per person per day as the minimum.

  2. Pack canned food and a can opener, paper plates and utensils.

Remember to lock up as you leave. Good luck!

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