What to take during an evacuation

Banner at Cal Fire’s SQF Complex incident command center at the Porterville Fairgrounds.

You’re never as ready as you think you are. (Recently evacuated Three Rivers resident)

In the midst of an emergency, it can be difficult to think things through clearly and completely, which is why planning for a potential evacuation well in advance is advised. 

While ensuring the safety of your family should be priority number one in an evacuation, you’ll want a checklist of material items at the ready (and, ideally, a “go bag” of the things you absolutely can’t forget.)


This is what’s recommended that you take from your home if forced to evacuate:

Pets— It goes without saying that they should be at the top of the list when it comes to what you take with you to safety. Also, don’t forget food, leash, portable kennel, water, toys, blankets, and any other supplies you may need for them.

Identification— Pack your driver’s license, passport, and any other critical identification documents you have. For trans folks, that might also make sure you have any therapy letters or court-order petitions you might need to back up your request for name and gender marker changes. A proof of address — such as a utility bill — might be required to show when looking to gain help or access to your neighborhood after the disaster has passed.

Cash and credit/debit cards— Keeping cash on hand for emergency situations is advised as ATMs may not be accessible in an emergency and stores may be unable to take credit cards due to power or system outages. It’s also recommended to take your checkbook and at least one credit card with you in case you need to check into a hotel or make any emergency purchases.

Important documents— Be sure to grab any important documents like birth or marriage certificates, social security cards, wills, property deeds, or rental leases, and any other legal, financial, or insurance-related paperwork on your way out the door. While you may not need all of these documents in the immediate aftermath of an emergency, you may find them difficult to replace.

Keys— When evacuating, you should try to bring any important keys with you, such as those to your home, vehicles, office, storage units, post office box, or safe deposit boxes.

Medications and medical supplies— Taking any and all needed prescription. This includes EpiPens, inhalers, birth control, insulin, or hormones. You should also take any needed eyeglasses or contact lens supplies.

Hygiene supplies— Pack things like wet wipes or hand sanitizer, a toothbrush, extra underwear, tampons or menstrual pads, and diapers, if needed.

Basics— Other basic supplies include food and water, comfortable shoes, at least one change of clothing, a jacket, flashlights, batteries, a hand-crank radio, and sleeping bags or blankets. Don’t forget spare masks, both N95 with valves that block dust, as well as cloth or disposable face coverings that prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Electronics— While it’s not recommended to risk your personal safety for a few electronic items, grabbing your phone, tablet, laptop, external hard drive, and any needed chargers if time allows could save you a headache in the future. It may also make it easier for you to contact others.

Irreplaceable items and keepsakes— Grab comfort items and sentimental keepsakes if time allows. Focus on things that are irreplaceable, like photos with no digital copies, family heirlooms, a child’s favorite toy, or valuable collectibles.

One thought on “What to take during an evacuation

  • September 18, 2020 at 6:40 am



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.