Creating an emergency evacuation plan ensures that you and your family will be ready in the event that disaster strikes. Household evacuations are more common than most people realize. Each year hundreds of people are forced to leave their homes rapidly because of disasters, such as:
- Industrial accidents
The more that you can do to prepare for an emergency, the more smoothly the evacuation will go. Here are some tips to help you with your plan.
Set Your Meeting Places
Pick locations for your family to meet following the evacuation, both in and outside of your immediate neighborhood. A neighborhood location is appropriate for certain types of emergencies, including a localized fire. A distant location is better for other types of emergency evacuations, such as a flood or industrial accident. Knowing where to meet in advance helps eliminate panic during an emergency. You don’t want to waste valuable minutes settling on a meeting place.
It’s also important to establish meeting places ahead of time, because family members may not all be together when disasters happen. Having a set meeting place will help everyone find each other quickly.
Keep Your Gas Tank Half-Full
Keeping your gas tank half-full will allow you to get far away from a disaster site before you have to refill. If you believe that an evacuation could be called for in the near future, keep your gas tank full. During emergencies, gas stations are often closed. Following a natural disaster an area may face extended power outages, which means that gas stations will be closed even longer than usual. Whenever possible, plan to take one car when you evacuate to minimize traffic congestion and delay.
Plan an Alternate Route
When a large area is evacuating, many people will be attempting to take the most popular routes out of town. Be familiar with alternate routes that will help you avoid the traffic. You may also want to choose multiple evacuation destinations in different directions so you can change course at the last minute if needed. For example, if a bridge is closed, you’ll be able to turn around and head for a different location right away.
Designate an Out-of-State Emergency Contact
Pick a trusted out-of-state family member or close friend that you can contact in the event of an emergency. Give this individual a copy of your family emergency evacuation plan and all family cell phone numbers. This way he or she knows where you’ll be heading and how they can reach you.
When you’re facing a large-scale disaster, you don’t have time to let all of your family members and friends know that you’re safe. Your emergency contact can inform your other family members and friends that your family is safe.
Leave Ahead of Severe Weather
Disasters can pop up out of nowhere, leaving people blindsided and trying to get out of town with very little preparation. In the cases when you do have some warning, plan to get out before the situation becomes serious. For example, if there’s a wildfire in your area that is spreading, get out a full day or two before it gets near your neighborhood. You’ll avoid the major traffic jams and will have time to go somewhere safe.
Once you have an emergency evacuation plan in place, review it with your family once or twice a year and make updates as needed. Keep the evacuation plan in a central location in the house so family members can locate it with ease.