Creating an evacuation plan is an important step your family should take toward emergency preparedness. If a disaster requiring evacuation strikes your household, you and your family members will need to know where to safely meet. It’s also a good idea to decide on a safe meeting place inside your home should a disaster not requiring evacuation strike. Once your plan is constructed, practice it at least four times a year. Make sure you frequently remind family members, especially small children, of your emergency evacuation plan.
Use the following tips as guidelines for creating a safe, efficient emergency evacuation plan:
1) Make sure your family members and guests know the layout and exits in your home. You may want to consider labeling all the exits so no confusion arises.
2) Plan for areas where your family members sleep or spend an extended amount of time. If you have bedrooms on upper levels of your home, make sure you have enough fire ladders for every family member who may be trapped in those areas. Also, make sure your basement window wells have sturdy ladders that can be used as a means for emergency evacuations.
3) Label the gas, water, and electricity shutoff valves to your home and familiarize yourself with a gas shutoff tool and proper shutoff measures. CAUTION: Do not turn your gas off. If you do, the gas company will have to come to your home to turn the gas back on.
4) Establish a safe, familiar meeting place outside your home.
5) Conduct emergency evacuation drills at least four times a year. Make sure these drills involve every family member in your household.
6) Make sure you have easy access to your 72-hour/emergency kits. Placing these items close to exits and bedsides will ensure your family members have the supplies they'll need when accessing your home is not an option.
7) Assign a family member to evacuate any pets you may have. Make sure this plan does not involve the risk of any family member’s life! You may also want to consider keeping pet emergency kits alongside your emergency supplies.
8) Keep emergency contact information with every emergency supply kit you have and designate more than one emergency contact.
9) When practicing your evacuation plan, make sure you keep the ages and abilities of your family members in mind. Small children and the elderly may require special accommodations.