Emergency evacuation with a baby

Today was a scary day. Our neighbourhood had to be evacuated due to brush fires (if you’re interested, read more here). My husband was at work when he called me and said: “I’m watching the news right now. I want you to go and pack an emergency bag, just the necessities and put it in the car. Pack water bottles, our most important paperwork and anything that you might need in case you are not coming home tonight. I want you to be ready in case they order our house to get evacuated.”

I panicked for a moment. What about the baby? Are we going to be OK? All the fears that we new (and not-so-new) mothers have came all of a sudden alive…
I was so glad I had the heads up, I had the luxury of choosing my emergency items fairly slowly. But it got me thinking about refugees of war who sometimes have only minutes to grab their most important belongings and run! I don’t want to compare our situation to theirs, by any means – this is just how my thoughts were running to all corners possible.
One of my thoughts was to make our baby Aditya as comfortable as possible. He is only 3 months old, so he can’t run or hide. He can’t choose much anything for himself. But he can feel when us, his parents, are stressed or upset. I wanted to make sure, that he wouldn’t even know something dangerous is happening.
He was in a playful mood and didn’t want to be left on his own. I couldn’t imagine I would be running around the house packing what might become our only possessions and listening to him crying without having the time to comfort him (leave a baby crying and the “music” might double:), so I tied Moby wrap and put him inside facing out. As I was folding some clothes, I thought “Wow, he is very calm considering I’m running around with him like he was a rag doll.” And then he grabbed on a towel I was about to set down and I have realized, that he thought this was a new game! He’d recently started enjoying when fabrics ‘fly’ above his head and touch his face. So he was actually having a blast for a moment there!
We got packed in a comfortable speed and headed to a friend’s house away from the evacuation line and in the evening we returned home, happy to see the house just the way we left it.

This whole unfortunate adventure made me contemplate how unprepared I was to lose everything in fire and how much some material things mean to me.
Next time I hope I will know what to take with us and consider this a rehearsal for a possible quick exit.
Mainly I hope there is NO NEXT TIME!!!

I wish none of us is in a similar situation, especially with children, but life happens. Shit happens. Let’s try to put together a good evacuation plan for parents and babies!
DISCLAIMER: This is not an official evacuation guide, this is a personal account of events. This guide is food for thought and a little list you should tuck away in your mind and use it if needed with a good dose of common sense and tailor it to suit your situation and needs. Some city/ county government websites have a link to emergency checklists. I also like the Red Cross Preparedness List. If you have time to read this blog, you have time to find and print an emergency list and keep it on your fridge or in your car!
I cannot be held responsible in case you think my list caused you trouble
(sorry, I thought this was necessary).

If you are walking, you need to consider how to hold a baby, that doesn’t walk yet, and a bag/ suitcase at the same time. Use a sling or a baby carrier to free your hands and pack a bag you can carry or pull with one hand or consider a backpack.
If you’re using a car, you can take much more stuff!

Make sure you have:
•car seat for your baby
•stroller or baby carrier for your destination
•lots of water and some non-perishable food (even if you’re just going to a friend’s house – in the event of evacuation, you can be stuck in traffic for hours!)
•baby food/ formula if you’re not breastfeeding or if you’re supplementing
•mobile phone and charger
•map of the area (some roads might be closed)
Your bag should have:
•at least a day’s worth of clothes for everyone
•sturdy shoes
•basic toiletries
•medicines, if you take any; prescription glasses/ contact lenses
•utility knife (or Swiss knife or multipurpose tool)
•cash/ checkbook
•important documents (IDs, social security, mortgage, bank info contact list etc.)
•flashlight and batteries
•paper towels/ toilet paper/ tissues
•hand sanitizer
Personal items:
•laptop and external drive (especially if you have lots of important info and photos stored there)
•irreplaceable items like photos (this is an item

most missed when people lose most of their belongings) or important religious items (I have for example wrapped a cross blessed by the Pope, something that just caught my eye as I was packing and I knew it was important to me – and it didn’t take much space)
•camera with batteries or charging cable
Baby items:
•at least a day’s worth of clothes
•a pack of diapers and baby wipes
•clean bottles
•blanket, burp cloths
•favourite toy or book (you may consider this a non-emergency item, but as I mentioned, my intention was to make the evacuation seem just like a trip and not affect the baby – you will need to entertain the baby and have him/ her feel comfortable with a familiar toy in an unfamiliar situation).
If you have time like I did, change and feed the baby just before you leave. Who knows how long you would be driving or stuck in traffic.

Hmmmm, I feel better now. Just in case we need to evacuate again tomorrow morning! Good night (and good luck)!

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