As long as there have been natural disasters, humans have been developing ways to try and warn each other early so that they can get out of the way. There are several early warning systems in place that work best when weather is the issue. Storms models are able to accurately predict where storms will touch down and how intense it might be. Of course, with things like tornadoes, wildfires, earthquakes and flash flooding, the early warnings are limited. All of this adds up to the idea of being ready in case of an evacuation. At the bare minimum, every state in the country is susceptible to flash flooding. That is why it is important to have a plan ready to put into action if an evacuation orders comes down. Here’s how to be ready:

Start Packing

When “trouble” starts brewing, you need to start packing. Begin with what you consider to be your valuable possessions. Then move onto your important documentation such as insurance policies, medical records, birth certificates, etc. Those items should all be consolidated and either placed by the exit door or loaded up in the car. It will also help to have a “disaster kit” to bring with you in the car. This should be a suitcase or plastic storage bin that has essentials like flashlights, batteries, first-aid kit, change of clothes, blankets. It is also a good idea to bring along some water and dry foods.

Get a Full Tank of Gas

This is one of those items that should be done whenever you hear, “There is a bad storm coming.” You certainly don’t want to try filling up your car on the way out of town.

Prep the House

If you’re leaving, then you should turn off the gas and water lines coming into the house. Just note that with the gas line, you’re going to need to gas company to turn it back on when you return. You should also secure anything in the backyard such as patio furniture, toys or anything else that could be “lifted” in a storm. If you have valuable items that you’re leaving behind like televisions or antiques, then they should either be moved to a second floor or into the center of the house. If a hurricane is coming, then you might want to board up the windows. Again, this is one of those things you’ll want to do early on. The best time to buy pre-measured plywood for windows is when there is no sign of a storm!

Inform Neighbors and Family

If an evacuation order is imminent, then there will be shelters set up by local officials. You should let your neighbors and family know that it where you’re headed. You should also have the route plotted out before getting in the car.

Time to Go

When it is time to go, turn off and unplug everything in the house. Make sure you’ve got all your credit cards and cash with you. Hopefully, you’ve got a full charge on your cell phones. If not, then plug them into the car as soon as you get in. Lock all the doors and windows. As you head out, drive safe and slow. Remember, you’ve planned for this. No need to panic!