Disaster Evacuation Tips and Guidelines

Here's how to evacuate yourself and your family before a disaster.
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Evacuees on Interstate 45 leaving Galveston, through Houston, during Hurricane Rita in 2005. |Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Evacuation. It’s a scary word, but it takes place more often than you’d think. As Ready.gov points out, floods and fires frequently cause evacuations across the United States, and people living on the coastlines evacuate almost on a yearly basis as hurricanes approach.

According to Ready.gov, there are two types of evacuations, ones which are deemed mandatory by local officials, or ones in which evacuation is advised and a family will leave of their own volition to avoid a potentially dangerous situation. Either way, time is of the essence. Sometimes you’ll get one or two days to prepare for evacuation, as is often the case with a hurricane, but most disasters don’t give you any time to gather even basic necessities, which is why you need to be ready in advance.

Read More: 16 Ways To Save Your Home From Wildfires

Run through the tips and guidelines below, courtesy of Ready.gov, to make sure you and your loved ones are prepared to evacuate in the event of a disaster.

Evacuation Guidelines

* Plan places where your family will meet, both within and outside of your immediate neighborhood.

* Use the Family Emergency Plan to decide these locations before a disaster.

* If you have a car, keep a full tank of gas in it if an evacuation seems likely. Keep a half tank of gas in it at all times in case of an unexpected need to evacuate. Gas stations may be closed during emergencies and unable to pump gas during power outages. Plan to take one car per family to reduce congestion and delay.

* Become familiar with alternate routes and other means of transportation out of your area. Choose several destinations in different directions so you have options in an emergency.

* Leave early enough to avoid being trapped by severe weather.

* Follow recommended evacuation routes. Do not take shortcuts; they may be blocked.

* Be alert for road hazards such as washed-out roads or bridges and downed power lines. Do not drive into flooded areas.

* If you do not have a car, plan how you will leave if you have to. Make arrangements with family, friends or your local government.

* Take your emergency supply kit unless you have reason to believe it has been contaminated.

* Listen to a battery-powered radio and follow local evacuation instructions.

* Take your pets with you, but understand that only service animals may be permitted in public shelters. Plan how you will care for your pets in an emergency.

Read More: 10 Critical Questions To Ask Your Insurance Agent

If Time Allows

* Call or email the out-of-state contact in your family communications plan. Tell them where you are going.

* Secure your home by closing and locking doors and windows.

* Unplug electrical equipment such as radios, televisions and small appliances. Leave freezers and refrigerators plugged in unless there is a risk of flooding. If there is damage to your home and you are instructed to do so, shut off water, gas and electricity before leaving.

* Leave a note telling others when you left and where you are going.

* Wear sturdy shoes and clothing that provides some protection such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts and a cap.

* Check with neighbors who may need a ride.

Read more: http://www.ready.gov