Developing an evacuation plan now could help later
Sometimes a disaster will force you to leave your home, often with very little warning. State and provincial officials have the authority to force an evacuation, so you must be prepared to leave quickly.
First of all, ensure that all members of your family know where you keep your disaster kit, because – if you have time to take it – it will be one of the things you’ll want to have with you. Keep it in an easy-to-reach place, as you may literally have to snatch it and go.
As your family will likely not all be at home when disaster strikes, the importance of a rendezvous spot is paramount. Make certain everyone knows where to meet.
Making a quick escape will be much easier if you always keep your car’s gas tank at least one-quarter full. Keeping a car kit of basic emergency supplies is also a good idea. Listen to your radio, and take only the routes suggested by authorities, as other routes may be impassable.
An evacuation will be a lot less stressful if you have an agreement ahead of time to shelter with an out-of-area relative or friend should a disaster occur. Official shelters are almost certain to be crowded and uncomfortable.
If you do have some time before you have to leave, you may want to do the following:
- Shut off electricity. (Unless you are instructed by an authority to do so, do not turn off natural gas. Once it is shut off, only a gas company representative can turn it back on.)
- Shut off water.
- Move garbage cans, children’s toys, tools, lawn furniture, and ornaments inside.
- Make arrangements for pets. Most veterinary associations recommend you take pets with you when evacuating, if possible. However, you should be aware that for health reasons, most evacuation shelters do not accept animals. If you must stay at an evacuation center, try to leave your pet with a friend or relative whose home is not endangered. If this is not possible, the best you may be able to do for your pet is confine it to a relatively safe part of your house with enough food and water for several days.
Some basic planning will help to make you that much safer; that bit of safety may make all the difference.