So here’s one for the family blog: two weeks ago, my husband and kiddos and I were officially evacuated from our home. We don’t live in an area particularly known for wild weather; nor are we anywhere close to big, messy factories or power plants. In fact, we’re not especially close to anything up here on our little island in the Puget Sound. And yet, at 10:15 that night, the nice firefighters who had been scampering up and down my street all evening knocked on the door to tell us they “advise leaving.” Two hours earlier, my little ones were distracted from their bedtime routines by the exciting chaos of fire engines with their lights ablaze, and sirens screaming just outside the window. While they remained glued to their favorite sight, my husband and I caught a glimpse of what had brought the authorities there: plumes of white vapor pouring into the sky from the garage of a home just down the street. As it turns out, even in our sleepy little corner of the globe, emergencies can sneak up on you—in this case, taking the form of a giant, chlorine-filled tank that my unfortunate neighbor happened to crack open. It took us a while to get the whole story, but the upshot was an impromptu overnight adventure to Grandma’s house. I hate to admit that my bug-out-bag was a little dated (ahem, diapers for my son, who is now four and completely potty-trained). Fortunately, our exit wasn’t as urgent as it could have been and I had time to gather the essentials. However, here are some things I will be doing ASAP:
- Evaluating our evacuation readiness. I know I work in this field, but the idea of an evacuation was so far from my mind that night. I clearly need to think through my family evacuation process more thoroughly.
- Creating our Family Emergency Plan. This time we had a couple of hours to sort out where we were going and what we needed to take. Next time, I don’t want to have to have that lengthy conversation.
- Practicing our Family Emergency Plan. My kids were groggy and easily persuaded last night, but had they been fully conscious, I could anticipate a lot of questions and even a bit of resistance. But if everyone knows the drill, next time we can save precious minutes and get everyone to safety with minimal drama.
- Develop a Neighborhood Emergency Plan. Most of our night was spent texting multiple neighbors, trying to gather and disseminate information as best we could. If we’d had a neighborhood communication plan in place, it would have saved a lot of hours of uncertainty and stress.