First step in developing your evacuation plan is to discuss with your family what to do if authorities advise you to evacuate.
Man-made and natural disasters cause evacuations every year. Will you know where to go and what to take with you?
Consider these situations:
Factory explosions (such as the one in West, Texas, and transportation accidents, such as overturned tractor trailors and train derailments are often accompanied by the release of chemical substances, whether they be fumes or liquids. People are regularly forced to evacuate their homes, workplaces and sometimes even schools and seek shelter elsewhere to avoid contamination.
Fires and floods cause extreme damage and immediate evacuations and happen more often than chemical or biological disasters.
Almost every year, people along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts evacuate in the face of approaching hurricanes. At least with hurricanes, there is some warning in advance of the storm so an evacuation plan can be handled with more thought.
If it beceomes necessary for your local municipality to evacuate, your community leaders will notify the public through media outlets. Pay attention to your local news sources.
Learn about public shelter locations in your community. Be prepared.
Make “in-case-of-evacuation” arrangements for a place to stay with a friend or relative who lives out of town or with a hotel, motel, or campground you are familiar with that can be reached by an evacuation route you would expect to take.
The amount of time you have to leave will depend on the hazard. Weather-related events, such as a hurricane offer opportunities for more planning as they are monitored and better predicted by weather forecasters. This allows for more preparation, fortunately.
However, many disasters don't offer that flexibility, which is why it is essential to have an evacuation plan in place and a bug-out bag ready.
How to Prepare Ahead of Time
- Keep a full tank of gas in your car if an evacuation seems likely. Gas stations may be closed during emergencies and unable to pump gas during power outages. Plan to take one car per family to reduce congestion and delay.
- Purchase an Evacuation Map for your state and become familiar with evacuation routes.
- Plan several evacuation routes in case certain roads become blocked or closed.
- Follow the advice of local officials during evacuation situations. They will direct you to the safest route.
- Be alert for washed-out roads and bridges. Do not drive into flooded areas.
- Consider buying a Midland XT511 GMRS Two-Way Emergency Crank Radio with a tone-alert feature. Midland Radio is the best way to receive warnings and emergency instructions from the National Weather Service.
If you have pets, follow the steps in your Pet Plan.
Wear sturdy shoes and clothing that provides some protection, such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and a cap.
- Extra cash, if the power is out ATM’s won’t work
- Prescription medications, vitamins and dentures
- Personal hygiene items
- Flashlight, batteries, radio, first-aid kit, bottled water
- A change of clothes and a sleeping bag or bedroll and pillow for each household member
- Important personal documents - birth, death, and marriage certificates, insurance policies, and bank account records should be copied and stored in waterproof, fireproof, portable containers
Place the supplies you'd most likely need for an evacuation in an easy-to-carry container, i.e. trash container, backpack, duffle bag.
If you only have a short time before leaving your home, and you don’t already have a bug-out bag ready to go, pack these items:
Before Leaving Secure your home
Unplug electrical equipment, such as radios and televisions, and small appliances, such as toasters and microwaves. Leave freezers and refrigerators plugged in unless there is a risk of flooding.
Leave natural gas on. Unless local officials advise otherwise, leave natural gas on because you will need it for heating and cooking when you return home.
Turn off propane gas service. Propane tanks often become dislodged in disasters.
Close and lock doors and windows.
Fire Evacuation Plan
Emergency escape routes aid family members in exiting your home more quickly and safely in case of a fire or other disasters.
It’s best to plan a second way out of each room, in case a door or hallway is blocked.
Store Underwriters Laboratory (UL) approved collapsible ladders for escape from upper story windows. Home Advisor professionals always choose UL approved ladders. Homeowners can contact Home Advisor approved companies when home repair emergencies occur, or use Home Advisor approved contractors for remodeling and restoration work.
Once out of the building, whether together or individually, teach family members to follow your family communication plan and go to your emergency meeting place.