Emergency Prep & Family Disaster Plans


Prepare for Evacuation: Household Tips

Preparing an evacuation plan is one of the best ways to prepare for an emergency or disaster. Many people think they know what they would do in case of an emergency, but few actually have a set plan or supplies ready on hand. Here are five household hints to live by in preparing for an evacuation.

1. Create an evacuation route map. Your evacuation route map need not be much more complicated than a simple pencil sketch on a piece of paper. Determine two escape routes from each room in your home. Mark the location of any equipment that could help you escape in case of a fire. For instance, mark the location of ladders, fire extinguishers, first-aid kits, smoke detectors, or any other special equipment.

Mark a spot for an established meeting place where every household member agrees to meet in case of an emergency. For a fire emergency, the meeting place may be in front of the house, or at a neighbor's house. For larger-scale emergencies, the meeting spot may be a friend or relative's house in another part of town, or another city.

Your evacuation route map should also include instructions on evacuating your neighborhood. Determine at least two routes you can take if you are forced to evacuate the neighborhood. Keep in mind which roads are likely to be congested, and make special note of bridges, highways, and areas that are prone to flooding or other hazards.

If you have children, creating an evacuation route map can be a fun way to prepare for the possibility of evacuation. You can get them involved by using paints and poster board to make a fun and safe evacuation plan map.

2. Establish an emergency contact person. Part of your evacuation plan should include establishing an emergency contact person who lives in another area code. During large-scale disasters, local telephone service is often suspended and only long-distance numbers work. Ideally, this person should have an answering machine, voicemail, and cellular phone service.

Every household member should carry the name and number of a person they can contact in case they become separated during an emergency. Each person is responsible for "checking in" with the emergency contact. When calling your emergency contact, it's best to keep calls short. Ideally, you should arrange a specific time to call in again and check to see how other family members are doing.

3. Make an evacuation inventory list. For many people, this question is usually asked as part of a philosophical exercise. If you only had ten minutes to evacuate your home, what would you take with you? In reality, ten minutes are all many people have when they are forced to evacuate their homes. Make a list of all the household items you place high priority on saving in case of an emergency evacuation. When constructing your list, remember that you will probably have to carry all your items. As much as you would like to salvage expensive electrical appliances and equipment, consider the practical considerations of an emergency evacuation situation.

4. Create a ready-to-go emergency evacuation pack for every member of your family. If you ever find yourself forced to evacuate your home in a moment's notice, you'll be grateful for the time well spent putting together a ready-to-go evacuation pack. Your emergency evacuation pack should contain all the basic supplies you need to survive for at least 72 hours. These include: water, food, first aid supplies, and any special items that you may require.

Place all of your items in an easy to carry pack like a sturdy duffel bag or back pack. Keep two sealed water bottles in your pack, as well as easy to carry food items such as granola bars and trail mix. Your first-aid kit should contain bandages in assorted sizes, scissors, tweezers, antiseptic, and non-prescription drugs such as aspirin, anti-diarrhea medication, and antacids. If you take prescription medication, try to keep a small supply of it in your evacuation pack. Other special items to keep in your pack include a flashlight, batteries, and a supply of emergency cash, map, compass, and sanitation supplies.

5. Practice your evacuation plan. It's a good idea to practice your evacuation drill twice a year, especially if you have children.

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