With Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the east coast, many city officials are urging citizens to evacuate their homes.
Most people will pack some clothes and bathroom items, but not much more than that – especially if it’s their first time evacuating their home. Clean clothes are pretty high up on most of our packing lists, but your home is also filled with valuable items you might want to take with you: TVs, computers, financial documents, birth certificates, electronics, family heirlooms, etc.
Not sure what else to take with you if you have to evacuate your home? We’ve listed a couple of items you should make sure to pack up in case the worst happens and you can’t get back to your home for a couple of days or even weeks.
Even though you might think your home is safely boarded up and locked, you should still take all of your sensitive documents, like social security cards or financial documents, with you. If you have to evacuate your home for several weeks, that gives potential thieves a lot of time to stake out your home and figure out a way in.
You might be thinking, “It’s all right! I have my documents in a safe.” Not necessarily. If you have your sensitive documents in a small safe, thieves can easily take it from your house. This gives them an unlimited amount of time to take the safe to their place and crack it open.
No matter what size safe or how well hidden you think your sensitive documents are, just lean to the side of caution and take a few minutes to pack them up. I know I would feel safer knowing they’re safe with me rather in the hands of someone out to steal my identity.
Pack up your computer
Most of us use our home computers for online banking, which means our passwords are probably saved so we don’t have to jump through a ton of hoops to log in later. Experienced hackers, if given enough time, can easily access your bank accounts if they steal your home computer.
Whether you have a desktop or laptop, pack up your computer and take it with you when you evacuate your neighborhood. Your computer is pretty much a digital filing cabinet filled with your personal information, so make sure it doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.
Just like with your sensitive documents and computer, you shouldn’t leave valuables like jewelry behind if you have to evacuate your home. If the worst-case scenario happens and people start looting or breaking into homes, jewelry is usually one of the first items to go. Your jewelry is small, easy to take, effortless to transport, and gets a huge return whether the thief sells it on the street or in a pawn shop.
If you have jewelry you love or valuable heirlooms that you want to pass on to the next generation, don’t leave them at home if you have to evacuate. Take them with you or to a bank and store your valuables in a safety deposit box.
If the power goes out or phone lines get disconnected, you won’t be able to use credit or debit cards to pay for food or gas. If you have some emergency money at home, take that with you as well.
If you don’t have any emergency cash at home, make sure to stop at a bank before you leave town to get a few hundred dollars to hold you over. You might need it. If you don’t end up using it all, you can always put it back in the bank once you get back home and settled.
Sadly, many people leave their family pets behind when they evacuate their homes. Many shelters became overwhelmed with abandoned pets after previous natural disasters – particularly Hurricane Katrina. Some people just left their dogs or cats to fend for themselves. I don’t know about you, but seeing all those dogs and cats wandering around the streets, dirty, hungry and tired, broke my heart.
I’m sure it was a difficult decision to leave those pets behind but you don’t have to make the same difficult choice if you plan ahead. Just as you would pack a bag of necessities for yourself, make sure to also pack up a bag for your pet with food, water and toys. Moving with a pet is difficult, so try to minimize stress by keeping the situation as calm as possible.
After you board up your windows and pack your bags, be sure to throw these other items in the car with you. Whether it’s protecting your identity or your pet, make sure that you take all the valuable and vulnerable things from your home. An evacuation notice shouldn’t be taken lightly, and it’s always better to prepare yourself for the worst possible scenario than just meander by and take your chances.