Have at least 4: North, South, East, and West
Adaptability is crucial to evacuation. How capable are you of adapting to your environment? This will be the most important question to ponder while preparing. No matter how well we plan, an evacuation is always going to be unpredictable. The most unexpected issues will arise. There will be at least one issue that we could not have prepared for. This is why being flexible and ready to make changes on the fly is so important.
Since many people will evacuate at the exact same time, the most popular escape routes will almost certainly be blocked off, or at best, extremely congested. A directional escape plan must be created. Assume that three out of the four major directions will be rendered useless.
You should drive out at least one hour outside of your immediate area in each of the four major directions. Once you have gone an hour out in each direction, connect those extending points together and draw a “diamond” outline around your home town on a map.
Create a driving history of what you saw in each direction. Memorize or write down all roads. Keep tabs on non-paved terrain while thinking about whether it could be navigated by your vehicle? Watch for police stations and/or military bases. The larger the authority presence in a given direction, the greater the likelihood of checkpoints, pat downs and other protocols which could serve to slow you down or even detention.
Terrain, types of roads, structures found along the way, presence of authority figures and other secondary and tertiary factors will all come into play. All of these factors should weigh on deciding which direction will provide the best escape route for you.
Depending on where you are located nationally, some of these directions will likely be more popular choices for the masses. If you can guess that most people will evacuate in one direction, you should go in the opposite direction.
People on coasts will tend to drift away from bodies of water. Therefore, the Carolinians will likely head west, while the Californians will probably head east. If you find yourself in either of these two states you should probably look either north or south, as the majority of traffic will likely not move in that direction.
If you are extremely well prepared, however, you may choose to go against common rationale, all together. If you have a boat docked somewhere off-shore, you can choose to make a nearby island your destination of refuge.
Few people will think to hide on a small island off the coast of California or North Carolina during a hurricane or even in a non-weather related evacuation scenario. Preparing well in advance and having a shelter dug near the shore of a nearby island can make evacuation both quick and efficient. This is precisely the outside-the-box thinking you will need to employ in preparing for evacuations.
Remember that congestion is as much of a danger during evacuations, as the cause of the evacuation, itself. Whatever you choose to do, your primary goal should be to distance yourself from crowds and crowded travel routes. Nothing good can come of being stuck in a crowd for long periods of time. Whether it was Katrina victims at the Superdome, riot victims by the Great Western Forum, or nuclear fallout sufferers near Fukushima, Japan; nobody benefitted from being stuck in a large human herd. In fact, most of those who were stuck in one place suffered just as much from immobility as they did from the original disaster.