Using the Grab & Go Checklist

Become swiftness itself as you evacuate yourself to safety.

Evacuations are spontaneous affairs! Planning your best case scenario in advance will help you perform when the pressure is on. The Grab & Go Checklist is your evacuation checklist: it catalogs both what you need to take and what you need to do when it’s time to evacuate.

Depending on how close the danger is, you might have no time (~30 seconds), a little time (~5-15 minutes), or some time (~1 hour or more) to make your moves. Use the Grab & Go Checklist to triage your gear and your tasks for each of those time frames. List your tasks in order of priority, and note 30s/5m/1hr in the notes column to help make sure you get out in time.

Rule of Thumb

If you’re not sure what’s realistic, test yourself with some dry runs. How quickly can you move around your home before making it to the exit?

30 Seconds to Evacuate

When making your 30 second list, focus on your group’s basic survival. Grab the Go Bags, save all the living beings, and (if there’s time) do fast, high value tasks like getting the car out of the garage so it can help you escape the danger.

This very fast evacuation scenario could occur if you have a house fire, a wildfire is quickly spreading and closing evacuation routes in your area, or if you hear a tsunami alarm. What similar evacuation situations are relevant to your region? Every second matters, so be prepared to drop everything and get moving.

5 Minutes to Evacuate

When making your 5 minute list, focus on survival AND some extras. These are the things that you don’t literally need to survive, but that have significant value or will make your life much easier if you’re not able to return home. Popular picks will be laptop computers, external hard drives, anything you keep in a safe, heirlooms, treasured toys, extra child/pet necessities, and camping gear. Having a large bag or laundry basket on hand will help you gather and carry your items more quickly. You’ll still need to move quickly, so time yourself as you create your list, and make sure these items have fixed locations in your home.

This quick evacuation scenario could occur if your next door neighbor’s home is on fire and in danger of spreading to yours or if you’ve been advised to evacuate due to nearby flooding, wildfire, or chemical spills.

1 Hour or More to Evacuate

When making your 1 hour list, focus on survival, some extras, and additional comforts. You may even have time to pack a bag with specific personal items, as if you were going on a trip. Popular picks will be additional heirlooms, extra clothes and shoes, a cooler full of food, and more cumbersome valuables like desktop computers.

While you’ll have more time to collect items, this timeframe also gives you the best opportunity to complete additional tasks that could protect your home during the impending disaster. Whether it’s placing sandbags or connecting hoses, it’s good to list some tasks that will help protect your home before you evacuate, if you have some advance warning.

This longer evacuation scenario might happen if there is a nearby wildfire or impending hurricane.

Planning saves relationships. Use our Grab & Go Checklist so you can evacuate in relative peace.

A key element of the Grab & Go Checklist is division of labor. You can do more in a short amount of time if multiple competent people are working on different tasks. That said, you should plan for the most likely scenarios: if there’s usually only one adult at home, make sure the tasks you list will be able to be completed by one person, especially for the 30s and 5m timeframes.

Once you’ve determined your plan, fill in the second copy of the checklist so you can keep one where you sleep and one in a central place in the house (kitchen and foyer are popular picks). Evacuate like a pro! You can do it.