There are hundreds of articles, publications and videos that talk about the importance of preparing your family for a potential disaster. However, did you know that less than 5% of families have an evacuation strategy for their home? There are a wide variety of scenarios which might require you to leave home in a hurry. Here’s a quick guide to what you can do to plan an evacuation strategy for your family.
Planning for Different Scenarios
Deciding on an evacuation strategy for a house fire will be drastically different than planning an evacuation for a home invasion. It’s best to have at least a few strategies for each scenario. You should have an evacuation plan for the following situations:
- Flash Flood
- Mandatory (ordered) Evacuation
- Home Invasion
- House Fire
You can also plan your evacuation to prioritize for disasters that are a high risk in your area. For example, if you live on the East Coast, you might want to make your first plan for a hurricane evacuation. If you live in a high risk flood area, you’ll want to make your flood evacuation plan first.
Making Your Plan
Once you’ve outlined your evacuation scenarios, it’s time to make a definitive plan. Your goal should be to get your family out of your home in the easiest and safest way possible. To start, first mark all of the entrances and exits in your home. This should include alternative exits, such as windows, skylights and basement access areas. Though your priority will be to evacuate through one of your doors, this may not be possible in all scenarios.
To plan for a second-floor evacuation, make sure that there’s an easily accessible escape ladder in at least two of your upstairs rooms. Most escape ladders can be folded for easy storage. Make sure your escape ladder is long enough to allow your family members to reach the ground safely.
It’s best to have a “grab and go” evacuation kit that can be used in the event of an emergency situation. This kit should be multi-purpose, and have basic supplies for your family. Aside from other items, be sure to include:
- At least one change of clothing for each family member
- Communication (i.e. Walkie Talkies) in case of separation
- Portable shelter or tent
- Basic medical supplies
- Water Purification System
Implementing Your Plan
Once you have your final plan, it’s time to begin educating your family. Work with all members of your family on the plan, especially small children. Evacuation doesn’t have to be scary – you can make your evacuation drills a fun activity for your kids. This will help them stay calm and focused in the event of a “real” evacuation.
You should give each family member a checklist to use when evacuating. This checklist can be posted on the back of a door, or in another easily visible area. Most children will have a much easier time with an evacuation if they’re given clear guidelines to follow. Make sure that at least one member of your family is in charge of bringing the “grab and go” kit in the event of an evacuation.