Evacuation Plan – What Would You Save?

Have you considered the top 5 things you’d save in an emergency?  Saving loved ones takes priority over everything else but what if you had 3 minutes to grab 5 things?  My sister didn’t have the luxury of time to think about this when her and her family of six ran out of their burning home in the middle of the night.  Once everyone was out, she confessed, she ran back in for her phone.  She felt like her phone was close enough to a exit that she could safely retrieve it.  The ability to call for help and connect with extended family in the middle of your very own personal HELL is an important thing.

What Top 5 Things You Would Save?

This topic comes up from time to time in the preparedness community.  The question usually creeps across social media platforms following a crisis.  It’s a motivating question, especially after reading tragic stories of loss and the nonsensical things evacuees grabbed on their way out the door.  Some of the items that people have inexplicably reached for in a crisis:  a yearbook, a bears headhalf a blendershoe polish, and the list goes on and on.  People panic when they are forced to make quick decisions about what to take with them.  They more commonly grab things that were recently on their mind and not essential items or priceless keepsakes.

Having a plan helps the likelihood of evacuating with items that you want and need rather than miscellaneous stuff.  Have you thought about this question?  Do you have an evacuation plan in place?  What top 5 things would you save if you had to evacuate your home in a hurry?  Please share your list in the comment section below.

There are many reasons to evacuation plan: flooding, fire, famine, and terrorism are the most common in the news.  Stories of evacuees have caught my attention over the years.  Some of the items I remember they wish they had grabbed are medication, good shoes, clothes, toiletries, laptops, photos, identification, and keepsakes. My sister is not alone in wanting to save her cell phone.  It is the #1 item on the list by the American Red Cross of the 5 Things People Most Regret Leaving Behind in emergencies.

Evacuation Plan

Recently, I heard that SimpliSafe was starting a conversation about the top 5 things to save in an emergency. Since they’re all about home protection and security, I figured it’d be great to join in.  It’s also a great question to ask oneself and have a plan for.
My husband and I have contemplated this question over the years since my sister’s house fire in 2009.  Several people we know have had house fires since then.  We have an evacuation plan and talk about it a least once a year.  My list is very similar to that of the American Red Cross.  My list is more of 5 areas in my home in which we would grab certain items:
      1. Laundry baskets

        Laundry baskets???  When you see first hand the cost and hardship of replacing everything fire victims own, a few things stick with you.  Most the time, they only have the clothes on their backs.  Clothes are a nightmare to replace!  In a crisis, every penny counts.  They hurry out to buy enough clothes to get them by then it hits them.  They NEED EVERYTHING!  Shirts, sweaters, pants, socks, shoes, underwear, pjs, and a jacket.  Over $250 for one complete outfit which clothes one person.  Multiply that with every member of your house.  There is also the problem of buying something cheap to save money.  My mother-in-law had a house fire and her new shoes fell apart after two weeks.  I have several more memorable stories about replacing clothes which is why it is first on the list.

        The laundry baskets would hopefully have a couple of unwashed outfits appropriate for the current season.  I’d also throw in the closest sneakers.  Another reason this is first on the list is because the basket provides a way to carry a lot of stuff in one trip.  The plan is that my husband and I would each grab one laundry basket (we have 2, one for light colors and one for dark colors).

      2. Wallet, purse, phone, and keys

        All of these items are kept together and are fairly close to the laundry basket.  These small items are easy to forget when you’re in a hurry.  Especially, if they’re in random locations throughout the house.  Keeping them together and always in the same spot gives me the best chance of taking them with me in an emergency.  I am assigned to grab these items.

      3. Fire-safe

        The fire-safe has our passports, important documents (aka: emergency binder), pictures on thumb drives, and keepsakes.  The fire safe fits in the laundry basket even though it’s big and a little on the heavy side.  My husband is assigned to grab this item.  Something to consider:  It is faster for him to grab the whole safe rather than unlocking it and just grabbing the contents.  If I were responsible for the fire safe, it would be faster for me to unlock the safe and grab the items inside rather than try to struggle with its bulk and weight.

      4. Scrapbooks and Journal

        Our scrapbooks are large but they are also the most precious to us.  They contain our wedding pictures and the adventures we have spent our lives accumulating.  I have a select few that we will try to grab in an emergency.  Writing in a journal is something I do a couple of times a year and I also sketch from time to time.  The journal and sketch book are kept with the scrapbooks so I can easily add them to my basket.

      5. Bug Out Bag

        Our bug out bag has food, toiletries, hygiene kit, sleeping gear, fire starting kit, and a week supply of my medication.  I also keep military laundry soap in it so I can wash the clothes in the laundry baskets.  We keep a case of bottled water and bug out bag in the trunk.  Sometimes the bag is removed and placed by the garage door.  My husband is assigned to make sure it’s in the trunk.


We start in our bedroom as if we had just woken up.  It’s the furthest section of our home away from the garage door.  We grabbed the items on our evacuation list and headed for the car.  The drill took us 1 minute and 36 seconds.  If we’re evacuating our area because of a natural disaster or doomsday scenario we have a secondary list.  More preparedness resources are needed if a community is facing a crisis rather than just a family, like the example of a house fire.  This is because there are community resources available to families that have been devastated by fire.  Resources such as: the Salvation Army, Red Cross, and food banks have helped families with their basic needs.  However, if the major of the community is in need there are fewer resources to go around. Our secondary list includes items like a food storage bug out kit, portable heater, firearm kit, and camping gear.  Our total evacuation time including these items is 3 minutes.

Top 5 Things You Would Save



Other articles you might be interested in:

Emergency Communication Plan

Preparedness Checklist Bug Out Bag


About PreppersSurvive 130 Articles
Welcome to my site! My name is Nettie and I started this blog to provide simple tools to help Preppers.  I am a Girl Scout Prepper. “Be prepared! A Girl Scout is ready to help out wherever she is needed. Willingness to serve is not enough; you must know how to do the job well, even in an emergency" (the motto, in the 1947 Girl Scout Handbook). Being a Prepper has been a blessing to me, my family, and friends on more then one occasion. You'll find these stories throughout this blog.  You will also find prepper supplies checklists, prepper events, cheap food storage ideas, emergency heat sources, survival books recommendations, reviews on power outage lights, printable prepper pdfs, and articles on emergency disaster preparedness.  Click here to read more

6 Comments on Evacuation Plan – What Would You Save?

  1. 1. Kinkade art
    2. Antique silver horse (inherited from my grandmother)
    3. Photo albums
    4. New towels (I just love them!)
    5. Keepsake that reminds me of my late husband.

  2. I am going to take the day tomorrow to build carry-away bags (i know BOB is the normal phrase….but for some reason it just bugs me…hehe). I like your list a lot and it is a serious motivator to do what’s practical! Thanks!

  3. Hmm, I never thought about what to grab, in case of fire. You could even throw stuff out windows, if nearby. My hamper would be a good thing to throw because it often has lots of clothes in it.

    Certainly a phone. We are so dependent on our phones, yet, we can’t back them up. I wish we could have two active phones with the same number. When phone is lost, we are lost. Maybe I should get a second number. I wonder how much that costs.

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