What if you had to evacuate your home 15 minutes from now? Are you ready? Would you know what to take with you and where to find it? Do you know where to go? If not, you have to develop an evacuation plan for your home.
Why Do You Need an Evacuation Plan?
If disaster strikes, you have to be prepared in case the only thing that will keep you safe is evacuation. Even if you have secured your home and made it a homesteader’s dream, there’s still a possibility that you may need to leave your home at a moment’s notice. Creating an evacuation plan is a crucial part of prepping. If you don’t have one, there will be a major hole in your survival plan.
An evacuation plan must be carefully planned with attention to detail, so when the unfortunate happens, you know how to bring yourself and your family to safety. You don’t know what potential imminent danger may attack your area that will put your whole family to danger. If you live near a cliff, on the mountains or close to the mountains, close to an active volcano, near the sea, near a nuclear power plant, around or inside tall buildings, or in an earthquake-prone or hurricane-prone area – the more you need to prepare an evacuation plan.
How to Develop an Evacuation Plan
An evacuation plan is spelled out and shared with your family members in advance, so they all know what to do in case of a disaster. Consider where you’ll go, what to bring, how you’ll get there, who will know where you are, and how you can stay in touch.
In developing an evacuation plan, remind your children or spouse that you are doing this to protect them and prevent danger, not to scare them. You plan, so the disaster becomes a no-big-deal event. Unprepared people are more likely to succumb to panic and anxiety, and we all know these things won’t help us think straight and rationally. When you are making an evacuation plan, your purpose is to make your family mentally prepared for unwanted disasters.
List your evacuation locations.
Conduct a risk evaluation and identify any potential disastrous event that may require you to leave your home. Check out disaster zones in the US to know what kind of disaster will most likely happen in your area. This is a good idea to brainstorm with the whole family, or at least the adults and teens. Talk about your potential destination options for each event.
Don’t plan on your favorite routes being available for evacuation. Since it might be jam-packed, inaccessible, or destroyed during a disaster, it’s good to have an alternate route and even means of transportation.
If you plan to leave by car, you also need to have a plan for leaving on foot or by bike. Also, have an evacuation plan for getting home or an evacuation location from work if you can’t meet up with the rest of your family.
Designate a meeting place.
It’s important to establish a meeting place for each possible risk scenarios you have identified. Make sure that you make preparations in advance so that the needed supplies and accommodations are ready. Designate a place where all your family members can meet. Ensure that it’s outside the impacted evacuation area. Setting a meeting place is important, so all family members know where to go and meet, especially if not all are inside the home during a disaster. This way, you can see each other even when communication fails.
Here are the recommended meeting places:
1. Primary meeting place
This place must be right outside your home. It’s where you go to in the event of a house fire, or another event that requires you to go out of the house immediately.
2. Secondary meeting place
This is a place away from home but still in your area. This meeting place might be used if you need to evacuate your home during localized flooding, police evacuation, etc.
3. Bug-out location
This is the meeting place that’s at least 100 miles away, and would not be affected by the same event. In case of disasters that affect the whole area, you and your family don’t need to meet at home. Whether from work or school, teach the family to go to the bug-out location ASAP for safety. Map out several alternative routes of going to this place if in case some are blocked and deemed unsafe.
4. Higher ground meeting place
This is the place to gather if you and your household are at risk of flooding or tsunami.
Pack a survival kit.
A survival kit, also known as the bug-out bag or emergency kit, is designed to provide you with the bare essentials that you need in case you need to evacuate. It consists of food , water, first-aid kits and sanitation supplies if evacuation suddenly takes longer than expected. For easier prep, you can invest in ready-made survival kits . But if you have brands you prefer, simply check out the contents of a survival kit and create your own by purchasing contents individually.
You should also consider if an emergency occurs and you’re at work or at school. Make sure to keep a bug-out bag in your lockers or cubbies so you can be prepared at all times.
Create a communication plan.
Make a communication plan for use if you and your family members become separated. Develop a plan that everyone is comfortable with, in case there will be no cell service or landline. Have a written copy of each family members’ cellphone number, important addresses, and other contact information and place one of each in your family member’ survival kit. Keeping a written list will be helpful if in case your phone won’t work. Also, get a list of emergency numbers such as the fire department, police, etc. so you know how to contact them in case of emergency.
During certain emergencies, public safety officials can communicate through news, social media, and smartphone alerts, so keep your line ready. Always have a power bank with you to keep your electronics charged.
Leave early if you can.
During a disaster and you just know you will need to evacuate, you don’t have to wait for the government’s go signal. The longer you wait, the greater the chance of being stuck with crowds or a traffic jam along with all the people also trying to evacuate. Leaving your area before everyone else means you’ll have plenty of time to get into your evacuation spot.
Plan and practice.
Making an evacuation plan is not a one-time thing. The emergency plan is a dynamic document that may need revising as each situation and needs of each family member change. Practice it with your family by holding a drill or by simply asking them, “What if?” questions. A way to mentally prepare your family is by asking them random questions at random times. Listen to their responses and steer them gently to the safest course of action. For example, when you’re driving, you can ask them, “What if two cars suddenly popped ahead of us in this intersection and got into a collision? What should we do?” When you’re in the bank with your child, you can ask,” What would you do if that man suddenly pulled out a gun to rob this bank?” When you’re at home, ask them, “What would you do if there’s a sudden strong earthquake and our ceiling collapses?” This can be a teaching moment for your family. Remember to listen to their responses and guide them and avoid being condescending.
Some members of your family may feel reluctant to do a drill or answer these hypothetical questions, so always be clear with your purpose – it is to empower them and to help them make it safely through unexpected challenges and disasters. Make it clear to them that you don’t want to cause stress and fear, but you are doing it out of love and concern.