If a crisis is forcing you from your home, whether it’s a localized disaster or an evacuation that has the military knocking on your door, it’s important to secure your home before you go. Now, that’s not to say you should waste hours and hours on fortifications and other preps while a crisis is creeping closer, but if you’ve got the time to run through this quick checklist you stand the best possible chance of returning home to find yours in one piece.
Turn off gas and water
The last thing you want is a gas explosion or to flood your home and all your precious belongings, so if you only do one thing before you leave, turn off the gas and water. I would leave my power on, in case the grid does stay up so I don’t lose all our meat. I’ve set a large ice cube in my freezer as a failsafe, if it defrosts I’ll know as soon as I open it up.
Protect your furniture
If it’s a flood you’re experiencing you’re going to want to move all of your most valuable possessions up into your attic, so they stand the best chance of surviving the rising water. If it’s a storm, waterproof plastics is the way to go, heck, I’d even throw bedsheets over my furniture before I leave to keep the dust and any dirt and debris off.
Bring things inside
Anything that’s loose or in your yard needs to be packed away inside. Lawn chairs, outdoor dining tables, whatever it is, it needs to be secured. It can blow away in a storm, be stolen while you’re not home, or worst of all, it gives looters something to use as they try to break into your home. One case they used a trampoline to get into an upstairs window. Pack it up.
Store lots of water
Once you’re able to return there’s no idea what the water supply is going to be like, so I’d highly recommend topping up your stored water supplies before you leave. We’ve got bladders that fill in both bathtubs, as well as a series of water drums downstairs in the basement. Even if the town water gets contaminated, we can drink ours safely.
Shutter your windows
Close your blinds so no one can peer in and see what’s inside, and if you’ve got storm shutters lock these down too. If things are looking especially dire boarding up your windows is another option, but I’d only do this if you have the plywood and screws on hand. When a crisis hits isn’t the time to be chasing up supplies to get your windows secured.
Secure entry points
Hopefully you’ve done this already in the security precautions you’ve taken, but take the time to ensure that every window and door is locked tight, making it as difficult as possible for anyone to break in. I’ve added reinforced doorframes and security doors to my home, and bars on the windows so it’ll take a large amount of force to break through.
Lights on a timer
Of course, once you’ve left your home it’s pretty obvious to anyone who is paying close attention, but giving the appearance there are people at home is a good strategy to the casual passerby. We’ve got a timer that comes on and flickers like a television, as well as sporadically turning on other key lights in our house so it looks like people are there.
Lights on approach
Criminals sneaking up to your home will be there to loot and steal under the cover of darkness, and I see the best way to overcome these cockroaches is to turn on the lights. We’ve got motion-detected lights that illuminate our entire home, and it’s my hope the sudden shock sends them scuttling back under the rock from where they came.
Security camera systems
We have a series of cameras that link up to my phone, and just being able to see what’s happening at home with just a few clicks is very reassuring to me. We can see our supply room and the property, and also get notified if there’s any movement or suspicious activity around. Not that we could do much, but at least we can check in before venturing back.
Pack your go bags
If you’ve not put your go-bags together already, you need to have at least three days’ worth of food, clothes and supplies for each member in your family. Pack warm clothes that will keep you dry if you’re stuck outside, and don’t forget basics like a fire-starting kit, extra cash and all of your IDs, and even maps of your local area in case your planned route is closed.
Bring radios and batteries
You’ve probably not experienced this when you’ve got power on all the time, but if you’re traveling on the road you want the ability to keep your devices charged. Battery packs will help, solar power charging kits are a smart addition, and don’t forget a radio too. You’ll be eager for any bit of news you can muster, and staying connected is a smart move.
Remember your pets
As unfortunate as it is, you do also need to consider the needs of your pets and livestock while you’re evacuated. Our dogs would come with us no matter what (our bug out location has been designed with them in mind), and I would set out food for the rest of our animals while giving them access to the barn and the fields for the space and shelter they need.
Getting your home ready for an evacuation can be a daunting thing when you’re doing it at the last minute, so take the time now to start ticking the boxes you need to ensure your home is secure while you’re gone. The steps you take today could make all the difference, in ensuring you’ve got a home to come back to. So get to it.