A hurricane is coming. It shifted course overnight and the flooding is expected to be bad. You need to get yourself and your family out of harm’s way — and quickly. Would you even know where or how to begin?
Planning for such an emergency is admittedly challenging. Every emergency situation is unique. Whether it’s a hurricane or an earthquake or a wildfire — or a police situation — there are situations that demand you and your family leave the area in a hurry. Sometimes the evacuations are very precautionary, and sometimes they are a matter of imminent danger. Sometimes you have an hour to be ready — and sometimes you have mere minutes. Do you even know what you’d grab or what you’d do?
Have a plan
In areas that are prone to emergency situations — earthquake zones and tornado zones and hurricane zones and even areas in the vicinity of a nuclear power plant — there likely are regular communications from emergency management officials about municipal and state plans should an emergency arise. Take cues from this information about the kind of plan most appropriate to your area.
If you don’t live in such an area, emergencies requiring evacuations can happen anyway. Again, local emergency management officials likely have some plans, though they may not be widely distributed. Check with local officials to see that the city or state has in place and, again, take some cues from this information. Think about how you might gather what you need quickly and efficiently and more importantly, how you would gather family members and get out of Dodge.
Have some basic supplies and information
If you’ve kept some emergency supplies at home for such a situation, super. Grab them. Don’t forget identification, a written list of important phone numbers and a change of clothes for each family member. Depending on how much time you have, you may be able to pack some extras in a bag for each family member so you’ll at least be comfortable in your evacuation for a day or so. Don’t underestimate the power of comfort items in an uncomfortable situation! And don’t forget your cell phone charger: You’ll definitely want that.
In addition, what you might need for an evacuation in the summer months is different from what you might need to evacuate in the winter months, especially if you live in a colder climate. Be sure to consider seasonal adjustments in your supplies so you are prepared in any month.
Know where you’re going
If you have to evacuate, where would you go? A relative’s house? A friend? A hotel on the interstate? Have a plan for where to go before you hop in the car. If the evacuation is such that you have to leave the car at home, go where emergency management officials take you and contact relatives from there.
If a regional evacuation occurs during the school day, school children likely will be taken to pre defined location. Know where that is so you can get there to retrieve your child.
Know how to get there
Oh, I have my phone, you think, and that has GPS. I’ll be fine, you think. I know my way around this town, you think. Um, okay. But what if the emergency requiring evacuation interrupts cell service? What is your cell phone is low on batteries? What if — and this does happen — you plain forget your way in your panic over the emergency. Have a couple of pieces of old technology in the car — maps.
With a bit of luck, you’ll never have to evacuate your family. But if you do have to one day, be ready. Know what it would take to evacuate before the moment arrives.