How to be better prepared for short and long term evacuations

Apr 25, 2023, 4:00 PM | Updated: Apr 26, 2023, 10:31 am

prepared evacuations...

Red Cross volunteer Kay Stevens carries her luggage in Murray on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, as she prepares to go to Louisiana to help with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. Red Cross volunteer Matt Davidson walks next to her. (Photo credit: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

(Photo credit: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — As more homes become at risk of collapsing due to shifting earth and inclement weather, one professional said when it comes to being prepared for evacuations, time is of the essence. 

“It’s important to plan ahead, ” Wade Mathews from Be Ready Utah told Dave and Dujanovic. “But our evacuation steps are going to depend on how much time we have.” 

Mathews says it’s vital to plan for two hypotheticals surrounding how much time you have to evacuate. One hypothetical is a notification reading to get out now. And another is a notification reading to get out in 30 minutes. 

Specifically, if you experience an immediate evacuation Matthew provides simple steps. These steps are: grab your family, get in your car, make sure your neighbors have a way to go, and leave.

Whether it be a wildfire or extreme flood, once Be Ready Utah gets word of evacuation, they reach out to American Red Cross. 

Next, American Red Cross uses its training and means to set up a shelter for long-term and short-term evacuations.  

According to Matthews most people opt out of the shelters and stay with someone they know. However, for those without that option, Matthews said it’s not uncommon to keep the shelter open for one or two families. 

Plan ahead

Where are you going to go? What am I going to take? Matthews says these are important questions to already have answers to prior to evacuations. 

One way to do this, beyond a disaster kit, is an evacuation list. 

“[Take] a three-by-five card write down 12-15 items and where you keep those. Keep that card with an empty container. So that if I get that evacuation notice I can go gather up those albums,” said Matthews.

The items should be irreplaceable, valuable things. However, if not granted the time, Matthews says your life is your main priority. 

As Matthews points out, many get stuck in the habit of milling. Not acting fast, seeing who else is evacuating and what they are bringing. 

“We’ve got to just train ourselves to act immediately, and avoid milling and save our lives that way,” said Matthews. 

Listen to the segment with Be Ready Utah’s Wade Matthews on evacuation preparation. 


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How to be better prepared for short and long term evacuations