Much of our preparedness journey has discussed having your home prepared for an emergency, but what happens if you need to leave your home in an emergency? Do you have an evacuation plan for your family?
It’s not a pleasant thought, but it is definitely something we’ve seen in the news much more in the last few years: Emergency Evacuations. Many different types of disasters require home evacuations. Hurricanes, tsunamis, chemical spills, gas leaks, and house fires are a few examples of these types of disasters. Having a plan in place before something happens will help your family cope and adjust in a stressful situation. This plan will help you take advantage of every second you have, and will guide your actions to be most efficient and safe.
Begin with a simple fire escape plan. Make sure your entire family knows the plan, and knows escape routes out of your home should there be a fire. Be sure to have a safe place designated away from your home where all members of the family can meet. If you feel that you could use more help in creating this plan, there are many different sources to turn to for help. Emergency Essentials' Family Emergency Preparedness Plan DVD will help guide you as you put your plan together.
Here are a few hints to get you going:
Make a map of your home, including all exits, doors, windows that will qualify as an emergency exit. Make sure each room has a primary exit (usually the door or hallway) and a secondary exit like a window. Label where each family member sleeps. Make sure you label the main shutoff valves for gas, electricity, and water. Mark your safe meeting place outside your home, where everyone can be accounted for.
Take an evening and practice your evacuation plan. Make sure your family is clear on how to evacuate safely and what they are responsible to do. If your home has second story bedrooms, you may want to consider a fire escape ladder for a safe exit from those windows.
If you are required to evacuate your home for other reasons, you’ll be grateful to have your emergency kits placed near one of the main exits so they are easy to get to. Assign someone the task of grabbing the kits should you need to leave your home in a hurry. Be sure you know where and how to turn off the utilities. This will be an easier task with a gas wrench in hand. You might also want to consider leaving a pair of shoes, gloves, and a flashlight close to each person’s bedside.
Designate an out-of-town and out-of-state contact person for your family to call in case you get separated. These numbers should be posted close at hand, and preferably memorized! You can even contact Emergency Essentials for a free magnet to post on your fridge with your emergency contact numbers, or visit: beprepared.com/evacuation for a free PDF version of our evacuation plan.
If you develop an evacuation plan for your individual family, you will feel confidant knowing that are ready should you need to leave your home during a disaster. Because everyone knows that when the going gets tough, you might have to get going!