One woman's 18-point survival checklist for fleeing Ukraine as Russia invades As millions flee Ukraine, one woman's checklist for surviving the train ride into Poland reveals the desperation and struggle that awaits those who leave.

One woman's 18-point survival checklist for fleeing Ukraine as Russia invades

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

We've all come across how-to guides, practical tips on navigating a situation often shared on social media. Well, as my team was getting ready to fly to Poland, we came across a list just like that. But it wasn't about how to fly with a baby or pack a carry-on. This list detailed practical tips to flee by train during the war. It was written by Inna Grynova, a Ukrainian Polish citizen. She was on vacation in a rural part of Ukraine when Russian bombs started falling.

INNA GRYNOVA: I woke up from the call of my parents, and the first thing which I heard from them was like, Inna, Putin has attacked Ukraine. Run away.

SHAPIRO: Inna's parents stayed in Ukraine, but she, her niece, sister-in-law and her sister-in-law's family fled. Just getting to the train station was harrowing. Along the way, they heard alarms warning of attacks. At one point, the group hid in a forest while her mother was tracking their location on her phone.

GRYNOVA: So my mother called us saying, hey, guys, I can see that you're crossing next to the military object, so be extremely careful because it can get attacked. It could be the first place where they would try to attack. So we had to actually change even, like, our road.

SHAPIRO: Inna's group did change their road and finally got to the train station where they waited in a crowd for hours.

GRYNOVA: So we're standing there for some time, and then we heard that the train actually came. And this is like when I was - I would say, like, it's almost like a panic happened when everyone's tried to rush there. And the entrance to the platform was, like, very small, and there were, like, a lot of children. At some moment, I remember when we were standing, there was, like, some mother who was crying, screaming the name of her child. And that, like, when we realize that she lost her child because, like, you know, when there is a crowd, like, you cannot see because the children are too small. So she said - like, we ask her, like, what is - what was her child wearing, like, or what was the color of the coat? So that's - then we start passing the information forward. And we found her, like, within, like, one minute or so.

SHAPIRO: So people were trying to protect themselves but also helping each other and looking out for one another.

GRYNOVA: I mean, like, it was definitely scary because they were, like, a lot of people, but, of course, there was like no aggression against each other. And it was like a lot of cooperation.

SHAPIRO: Inna's desire to continue to help people led her to write that list on Facebook. She described the post as a sort of life hack, and we asked her to read some of those hacks for us.

GRYNOVA: No. 1 - preference given to women and children. If you are a man, come to help, but do not try to get on the train. You still won't be allowed in. No. 2 - the train is...

No. 3 - come to the train station at least two hours in advance. No. 4 - don't take things which are too bulky. No. 5 - no need to purchase a ticket. Don't panic. No. 6 - the wagons get crowded to the very last centimeter. No. 7 - when waiting for the next train...

No. 8 - usually the train takes only four hours. It took us 24 hours to get to Poland instead of four hours. No. 9 - there are no toilets. Drink very little water on the train. No. 10 - dress up in layers. If you get inside the wagon, it gets really, really hot. No. 11 - take high-calorie snacks with you. No. 12 - have the medicine in hand. No. 13 - everyone is stressed and emotional to the max. No. 14 - I had no connection for most of the trip. So warn your loved ones...

No. 15 - in the morning when we went out...

No. 16 - Ukrainian border guards enter the car, immediately check the documents and put stamps in the passports. No. 17 - upon arrival, the volunteers immediately start throwing water, cookies...

No. 18 - in Przemyshl, they get people out of the train one wagon by another one. Everyone is being grouped by families. PS If I can somehow help you from Poland, let me know.

SHAPIRO: Inna says many people have taken her up on that offer and reached out. When she finishes reading her list, she's a bit overcome by reliving the experience in such concrete detail. Still, she emphasizes she feels lucky.

GRYNOVA: Like, we were all saying that after this train, we will never complain on any transportation. Like, you cannot complain in the rush hour in the subway - right? - after this. But at the same time, again, like, it's much easier to go through such hell and get to a safe place than to stay in the country when there's, like, bombs happening. And I definitely don't want to put too much attention to my story and to, like, act like if it was, like, way too difficult because I know what my family and my friends are going through, and they're staying in Ukraine, and it's much worse.

SHAPIRO: A quick scan of Inna's Facebook page today shows she is still trying to help, especially those still in Ukraine. You can read Inna Grynova's post on what to expect when you leave Ukraine at npr.org.

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