Disasters such as home fires and weather-related emergencies often occur between the hours of 8 o’clock p.m. and 8 o’clock a.m., leaving little time for thought. And a neighborhood-wide emergency evacuation, like we’ve all seen in recent forest fire activity, can leave a family with as little as 10 minutes to gather their belongings before vacating the premises. With these facts in place, it is easy to see how well-devised and well-rehearsed emergency evacuation plans can save lives and loss of valuables.
To create your own home emergency evacuation plan, follow these basic steps:
- Establish two means of exit from any room in the house.
- Map out a general escape route.
- Make certain every family member is aware of the location of any emergency equipment in the house (i.e. fire extinguisher, safety ladder, first aid kit, etc). Train age-appropriate family members in the use of this equipment.
- Decide on a family meeting place, outside the home, such as a specific tree in the front yard.
- Create a simple emergency to-do (or not-to-do) list. For example, don’t hide under the bed during a fire, stay away from windows during inclement weather, and stop-drop-and-roll.
Emergency evacuation plans are also necessary in the event of a large-scale disaster. People living in areas that are often hit hard by tornadoes, hurricanes or wild fires may have a need for an emergency evacuation plan that includes neighborhood escape routes and other longer range issues.
- Keep a local map on hand and have several emergency evacuation routes pre-determined.
- Make a list of where you keep your important paperwork, such as social security cards, birth certificates, etc. Having a list of passwords for computer accounts will also come in handy.
- Keep critical phone numbers either stored in your cell phone or in an easy-to-reach location.
- Choose an out-of-area contact so family members that are separated during an emergency evacuation can call to get their loved-ones’ whereabouts.
- Decide on an out-of-town location as your family’s designated meeting place.
With planning also comes the need for practice and of course, prevention. Having regular emergency evacuation drills will make it easier to follow the established plan during a crisis situation. And equipment like fire alarms, carbon dioxide monitors, and weather radios can add crucial seconds in the case of an actual emergency.…