Five Minute Warning: Are you prepared?

Five minute warning
Published: Jul. 7, 2013 at 1:33 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 9, 2013 at 12:12 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Five minutes.

What if that's all the time you had to evacuate your home and to decide what you'd bring with you if you thought you'd never see your home again?

We gave one local family a five minute warning and what they did and did not bring with them when they got out is a lesson for us all.

We didn't tell the Gudzunas family about this test until the very last minute. They didn't have much time to prepare.

"We have a plan for the family in case there is a fire or a tornado," said Jason Gudzunas.

However, this family of four who also have two dogs and a guinea pig had never talked about what they'd bring with them if they had a little time before they had to evacuate.

The American Red Cross partnered with us for the experiment, laying down the ground rules before we started the time clock.

"You will have five minutes to get out. In this scenario, chances are, you will not be able to come back to your home and your home might be gone. Grab the things you need but be safe doing so," Scott Teel with the Red Cross explained.

Their countdown began and we waited outside with Teel to see what they'd decide are their most important items.

"If you've talked about this ahead of time you know the things to grab and it will take less time," Teel said.

As they rushed around the house the time flew by. Grabbing necessary and sentimental items, putting the leashes on the dogs and surprisingly finding shoes to wear took up the majority of their five minutes.

When they got outside, we asked how they thought the drill went.

"It was frantic. There are so many thoughts going through your mind and you're trying to keep an eye on your kids at the same time," said Annie Gudzunas.

"I realized really quickly it is hard to prioritize under stress," Jason added.

They got good marks for bringing food, water, their laptop for records and a first aid kit. Mom remembered her eyeglasses and the power cord for her phone.

The kids focused on stuffed animals and shoes but had a tough time parting with many of the things in their rooms.

There were a few things the family didn't remember. Jason forgot his cell phone and while they brought their ATM and credit cards, they forgot other important documents like their insurance information and their marriage license.

"Even if you don't have an original just having a scanned version of those documents is important. Maybe put them on a flash drive and leave it with a family or friend," Teel said.

There was one more thing they ran out of time for. The family guinea pig. "Lovey Dovey" was overlooked until the very last minute and by then they had run out of time.

"You don't realize how short an amount of time you have to gather the things really important to you in your life," Teel said.

The American Red Cross recommends every family run through a drill like this twice a year. The more you practice, they say, the better the odds you'll get really good at it.

The Red Cross also recommends families follow the "Get Red Cross Ready" plan which includes three steps. Click here for more information about that and to download free checklists and advice on what to put in your disaster kit.

Fires are the number one disaster families face. You can watch the web exclusive video on this page to see how the evacuation process would have been different if the danger were a fire.

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