What would you do if you had a five minute evacuation warning? - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

What would you do if you had a five minute evacuation warning?


It's a typical night at the Hutto's. Husband Ben starts feeding 1-year-old Penny as Leigh Ann, his wife, dishes out pizza. At the table, 5-year-old Benjamin says the blessing as the standard nuclear family discusses the day's events.

The Hutto's have allowed us in their homes to chronicle a typical family. But they aren't aware they're about to be put through a scenario any family might face.

"There's been an evacuation ordered here in your neighborhood, and you've only got five minute to get what you need, load up the car with the kids and get out," I say.

Ben chuckles at the revelation.

"Your five minutes start now," I say.  

"Get your shoes on," orders Leigh Ann to Benjamin.

The rush is on. All three head to the back of the house. As Benjamin puts on his shoes, Leigh Ann puts Penny in her car seat, as Ben scrambles for Penny's supplies.

"Where's her diaper bag?"

As Ben heads back to the kitchen, Leigh Ann struggles to get Penny settled. and Benjamin peppers his parents with questions.

The frantic, but calm atmosphere has the children concerned. Benjamin peppers his parents with questions and Penny's crying. However, they are both ready to go. Leigh Ann heads to the front door and Ben heads for his wallet and keys as we reach one minute in.

As Leigh Ann takes the kids outside. Ben makes his way to the kitchen.

"Are we going to the beach," asks Benjamin.

"We're going somewhere to be safe," Leigh Ann assures her child. "Get in the car."

Meanwhile, Ben, still inside, raids food from the kitchen cabinets.

"Grab a few cans of canned chicken, little bit of tuna," says Ben.

Back outside, Leigh Ann finishes buckling the children in the car. She rushes back in the house to check the bedrooms for any loose ends.

"Two minutes left," I say.

"I'm ready," says Leigh Ann. "I don't need anything else."

The kids are waiting in the car as Leigh Ann checks the kitchen a final time as Ben heads for the bathroom for a first aid kit.

"Did you get any baby food?" Leigh Ann asks Ben. 

"No, I did not, but the plastic bags are right there if you want to get some more," says Ben.

The Hutto's now have 60 seconds to clear the house. Ben realizes there is little time left.

"We got to roll," says Ben.

As they join the kids in the car, and start to back up, the five minutes are up. We stop the car.

The danger may have been a test, but Ben says it was an important learning experience.

"It makes your think because you think about the recent issue with the Boston Marathon. Who knows what that bomb really could have entailed; could have been a nuclear device, could have been a biological weapon, and they could have called a city wide evacuation. You've got to roll, so it's a good wake up call," says Ben.

Did the Hutto's grab everything they might need? Anne Kate Twitty with the American Red Cross helped the family take stock.

"We've got the first aid kit, and it's got some medicines in there, bandages, and things like that. Some dry goods, there's some ramen noodles in there and some regular spaghetti noodles in there. There's also some canned tuna," said Ben.

"You were on the right track," said Twitty.

Food's an essential, but what else do they need?

"You mentioned cell phone, but did you bring your charger?" asked Twitty.

Turns out Ben left the charger in the house -- a mistake, considering cell phone batteries can be unreliable.

"That's not going to last, and if you're like me and use your cell phone all day at the end of the day it's about ready to die, so think about that if you've got two cell phones," said Twitty.

Another critical missing element the Hutto's forgot is documentation.

"One thing I didn't notice were documentations, legal documentations," said Twitty. "I'm not sure if you're a homeowner, if you're a renter, those documentations, driver's license, passports, if you've got a thumb drive with any of that information?"

The Red Cross says everyone should have a go bag, packed and ready, left somewhere in the house. Here's what it needs to have in it.

  • Water -- one gallon per person per day and at least a three-day supply for an evacuation
  • An emergency blanket
  • Maps
  • Pet supplies, including a collar and leash,
  • Identification
  • A small radio
  • A manual can opener
  • A tool kit
  • Extra cash.

"[Extra cash] is really important because you don't know if an ATM is going to be down or if you're going to be able to write a check," said Twitty.

The Hutto's have a meeting place -- Leigh Ann's parents -- but why is a plan so important?

"You need to know how to get out of your house; you need to have everybody on the same page, so I always encourage to sit down and have a family meeting," said Twitty.

The interruption in the middle of dinner was an eye opening experience for the family of four.

"Even though you may have an idea of where you're going to go, your parents house for instance, we know there's going to be supplies there and bed to lay down in, but you still don't have at that initial shock moment, you don't know what to expect or what to grab first," said Ben.

For the Hutto's, it was important that the kids were comfortable -- so important they grabbed toys for them, but no clothes for themselves.

Recent events in Boston and Texas and our test have the Hutto's evaluating a new plan.

"With those events, you know they've happened, you think about them initially, but then you realize these things are thousands of miles away, until it happens here in the backyard," said Ben.

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