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evacuation plan

  • Baby Steps: Have to Evacuate? Take Your Info Along

    Make sure to take your important information along if you evacuate

    Imagine this: A chemical spill and potential fire forces a sudden evacuation order in your area. You have ten minutes max to grab your kids, pets, keys, wallet, and emergency supplies and be on your way. What’s likely to get left behind?

    One item often forgotten in the rush of any crisis is information. You may need such info as immunization records (Bill cut his foot: when was his last tetanus shot?), homeowners’ insurance policy and contact numbers, or health insurance cards.

    Keeping copies of important documents and info in a form that’s handy to grab along with your emergency kit is a smart step in your preparation efforts. During any emergency, you won’t have the time or presence of mind to rush around gathering up birth certificates, documents, and important phone numbers. Why not prepare copies ahead of time and tuck them into a pocket of your kit?

    Follow these simple steps to add to your peace of mind and readiness:

    1. Make a list of documents, certificates, and papers you wouldn’t want to lose in any emergency situation. Consider the following:
      • Birth certificates
      • Marriage certificate
      • Social Security cards
      • Driver licenses
      • Life insurance policy numbers and phone information
      • Homeowners insurance policy numbers and contact information
      • Health insurance cards
      • Auto insurance cards
      • Passports
      • Up-to-date immunization records
      • Account information for all your credit cards and bills
      • Copies of prescriptions
      • Pet documentation (license and medical records)
      • Precious photographs, including a recent one of your whole family for ID purposes. Perhaps a picture with your pet(s) as well, for ID and proof of ownership.
      • Flash drives containing any computerized material you want to save—family history, creative works, correspondence, financial records, work files, etc.


    2. Make a list of phone numbers and email addresses you’d want to have with you. Don’t depend upon numbers that are programmed into your cell phone, as phones can be lost or destroyed. Don’t forget to include employers, employees, relatives, close friends, out-of-state contacts, doctors, poison control center, clergymen, and business contacts.

    4.  Make a list of all your accounts, with numbers and phone information.

    6. Gather up those documents from step 1 and make copies of them. Except for your driver license, put the originals in a safe, lockbox, or safety-deposit box at your bank. Consider making two or three copies instead of just one. You might want to leave one packet of copies with a trusted relative to keep for you. Think how grateful you’d be if (perish the thought!) your home had burned to have Grandma hand you a packet of all your most important documents and photos!  Some people also tuck a packet into their car emergency kit or somewhere else in the car in case it’s needed when they don’t have their emergency kit on hand.

      Seal your packet in a plastic bag to protect it from moisture and soil, and have only blank paper showing through the plastic to avoid advertising contents to would-be ID thieves. If you’re concerned about wrinkling or tearing, enclose a piece of stiff cardboard. Some people prefer to enclose each document in a plastic sheet protector and put them all into a binder, but while this would be perfect to hand to Grandma for safekeeping, it makes a more cumbersome package to tuck into your supplies. Your choice!

    8. Put your packets together and place them where they need to be. Take a deep breath and put your feet up. You’ve done well!

    For additional information, check out the “Emergency Financial First Aid Kit

    What other documents do you think are important to include in your information packet?


  • Fire Season Safety and Preparedness Tips

    Tips for Wildfire and House Fire Preparedness - Emergency Essentials

    Wildfire season has already started, and high-profile fires have already started in California and Colorado in the last several weeks.

    This news article gives great tips and suggestions for preventing wildfires and house fires—practical tips, and some I hadn't thought of before, including where you park your car when you’re out and about. Click here to read all 8 tips in the original article. Here’s my favorite:

    Target shooting
    Did you know that by July of 2012, 20 fires had been started last year by target shooters, including the Dump Fire, which burned 5,507 acres and cost $2.1 million to fight? The heat of bullets mixed with the hot, dry earth can be a very dangerous mix. Consider either visiting indoor shooting ranges or taking a couple months off from target shooting during the summer.

    Another tip includes having an evacuation plan. Your plan should include an emergency kit, bug out bag, or go bag, as well as a meeting place away from the house where everyone can meet in case of an emergency evacuation.

    Maryn McKenna shared her first-hand experience with an unexpected fire via Wired Magazine in her article, The Risks You Don’t Think of: A Plea to Pack a ‘Go Bag.’ She and her husband packed for a possible evacuation from their home because of a tree that had fallen on an electrical transformer next to their house. They packed their bags, and ultimately didn’t need them. Here’s what she said about her packing:

    To be honest, I give myself a C. I grabbed the cat’s food and dishes, but didn’t think to take the medication I give her twice a day. I took all the devices that access my stuff in the cloud, but didn’t recall that I keep some things out of the cloud for security; I should have taken the external back-up that sits on my desk. And, if things went very bad, I might have had a hard time dealing with the details; I relied on having web-based banking, but I didn’t think to take the phone or account numbers for any of the utilities. And I committed those fails despite minimal things to distract me: my spouse (aviation engineer) and I (epidemics and disasters journalist, pilot) are pretty accustomed to emergencies; we had only one pet to wrangle; and we didn’t have any small children or mobility-challenged elders to keep calm. And, most fortunate of all, we ended up not having to run.

    In the case of a large-scale evacuation, you will most likely have a few minutes to pack (versus a home fire where you need to evacuate immediately), but only a few. Keep emergency kits, important documentation, and precious keepsakes or photos where they can be packed quickly; that will help ease the stress of an evacuation and leave you with the assurance that you got everything vital out of the house.

    Think you’ll be able to “wing it” when an evacuation order comes knocking at your door? Evacuation: The 10 Minute Challenge, a video created by the Insurance Information Institute, shows the difference planning ahead will make—because those ten minutes will go by a lot more quickly than you’d expect:

    Get ready now for the possibility of a house fire or short-notice evacuation. Check out our pre-assembled emergency kits, get an escape ladder for each second-story bedroom, and learn more of the basics for Before, During, and After a fire in our Insight Article about Emergency Fire Safety.

    Be careful this summer, and stay safe!

    --Urban Girl


    P.S. I have my own tip for you. A couple of years ago we had a kitchen fire at my house (and no, I’m not the one who started it). We started chatting with the firemen who came, and they said that many house fires are started by toasters that short out in the middle of the night. So keep those electronics unplugged when you’re not using them.

  • Evacuation Plan


    Family practicing evacuation plan

    In an emergency, it's important to have a plan so you know what to do amid the chaos. A major part of that is an emergency evacuation plan. Understanding your family's evacuation plan can help those you love know how to get out of the house and get out of the city (if needed), even if they're on their own. Evacuation plans can be useful for many different types of disasters: hurricanes, tsunamis, and statistically more common, house fires.

    House fires are one of the most common disasters people face in this country so it is important that everyone has an evacuation or fire escape plan, and practice it regularly.

    Watching the Family Emergency Preparedness Plan DVD can be very helpful in designing your plan. Everyone in your family should know the plan, even the little ones, so set aside an evening when the whole family can get together to make your emergency escape plan. Follow these simple steps and you will be ready for an evacuation.

    In an emergency, every second counts, so you want to be as prepared as possible. Evacuation plans can be life-saving for you and the ones you love. Disasters don't just happen to other people. They are very real and can happen to anyone at any time. Take the time to plan and prepare and you will be very grateful you did.

    Make a map of your home and include the following:

    • Label every exit, including doors, windows, and hallways, which may become a potential fire escape.
    • In every room, label the primary exit (usually a door or hallway) and a secondary exit (usually a window) in case the primary exit is blocked by smoke or flames.
    •  Label every room where a family member sleeps.
    • Label the main shutoff valves of the gas, electricity, and water lines.
    •  Establish a safe meeting place outside the home so everyone can be accounted for. Practice your emergency evacuation plan.

    No evacuation plan will work unless it is practiced on a regular basis.

    • Involve everyone. It is important for everyone in the family to learn how to escape. You may even want to teach your children how to escape out of windows in case the door is unavailable to exit. A good fire escape ladder is essential if your exit is through a second story window. You may want to arrange the furniture so a dresser or nightstand is under the window to make it easier to escape, especially through basement windows.
    • Place your 72 hour kits strategically near an exit so they are easy to grab in a hurry. When you practice, assign certain family members to be in charge of grabbing the emergency kit.
    • Practice turning off utilities (gas valves, etc.). Caution: Don't really turn off the gas. If you do the gas company will have to come out and turn it on again. A gas wrench is a useful tool for this.
    • Practice other life-saving habits such as always leaving a pair of shoes, gloves and a flashlight or lightstick at each person's bedside.
    • Practice with time in mind. Try running through your disaster plan at least 4 times each year and adjust your plan according to the ages of family members.

    Other Things to Keep in Mind:

    • Designate an out-of-town and an out-of-state contact person for your family to call in case you separate. Have emergency and contact numbers posted by a phone and have everyone memorize the phone numbers.
    •   Practice using your 72 hour kit supplies. Make sure you include a good first-aid kit, including Burnfree pain relieving gel.

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