If you and your family had to evacuate your home because of a tornado, an earthquake or wildfire, where would you go?
There’s a lot to consider. “Location A is close enough to home to check on the house if we had to, but what if the entire city is affected? But if we went to Location B, how would I ever get to work?”
Is your head hurting yet?
Not to worry. A – That’s exactly why we want you to go through this exercise now and not when a firefighter is knocking at the door. And B – That’s also why we suggest that you choose three locations and opt for the one that fits your needs if an emergency ever rears its ugly head.
A great Evacuation Plan has two objectives:
1) To figure out the best location for your evacuation
2) To help you gather your family and get you safely to your location
First we’ll walk you through choosing your locations and sketching out a plan. Once the plans are set, put the details on your family’s emergency wallet cards. If you want, you can also give a card to the person you chose to be your out-of-area contact. And if you don’t have emergency wallet cards, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered!
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How To Choose The Perfect Locations
Location One: A location Near Your Home, that you can use if you cannot stay in your home, but the area around it is still safe and secure.
Location Two: A location Outside of Your Immediate Area, that you can use if you cannot stay in your area, but the cities around you are still safe and secure.
Location Three: A location Out of State, if your own state is uninhabitable.
With three locations you’ll be prepared no matter what the emergency. You’ll just go down your list, choose the location you need, and be on your way. You and the members of your immediate family will know where to gather and what to do, even if everyone is away from home in the middle of a busy day.
If you’d like to have a copy of these directions for later, download the PDF Version of How To Create A Family Evacuation Plan.
How To Choose A Great Location
Before you try to zero in on a perfect location, come up with as many different locations as you can that you and your family would be able to use for evacuation.
As you consider each location, think about:
The needs of the people traveling with you
How you’ll get there (car, bus, plane)
Any pets that will be traveling with you
Does It Have What You Need?
Once you’re pretty certain you have the right places, consider whether this location has what you and your family would actually need.
For instance if would need to stay in that location for two or three weeks, would it be close enough to the stores or services your family might need, like pharmacies, clothing, banks and doctors?
Would you be able to get to work from that location, or are you able to work from home?
Does it have the furniture and supplies necessary for two or three weeks?
We Have A Winner! Make That Three Winners!
No location is perfect, so if you came up with one or two things your location would be lacking, be sure to note them on your Family Evacuation Plan, so that you can take care of it before you get there.
The Staging Area
Now that you’ve chosen your locations, choose two places for you and your family to gather during an emergency, so that you can travel to your evacuation location together. One place should be near your home or work and the other farther from your home in case your area is completely inaccessible.
Put the addresses and phone numbers of these two meeting places on your family’s emergency cards.
Appoint An Out Of Town Contact
It’s also a good idea to appoint an out of town contact to help you while your family deals with the aftermath of an emergency.
Even though you might not be able to call people right in your own area after an emergency, you can often call long distance. A distant friend can be a touch point for the entire family until communication is restored.
Once you choose an out of town relative or friend as a contact, check with them to make sure that they’re willing to help. If so, give them a copy of your emergency plan and wallet card, so they’ll be able to help, if the need ever arises.
Creating Your Plan
Grab a copy of our Family Evacuation Plan, or if you have our book Get Your Stuff Together, you’ll find a copy in the back of the book. Here are a few questions to answer before you draft your plan:
Who Is Evacuating With You?
Who Will Do What?
Transportation Plans/Travel Information
Out of State and Local Contacts
Contact Information For Everyone Who Will Be Evacuating With You As Well As Your Out of Town Contact.
Their cell phone/school/office numbers
Twitter and Facebook account names.
Any other information that can put you in immediate touch with them, even if one or two modes of communication are down.
Making Your Plan Easy To Access
Review the plans with your spouse and adult family members. Once they’re set, put that information on your family’s emergency wallet cards. If you don’t already have your own, click the link to download ours. It might be a good idea to give a card to the person you chose to be your out of area contact, too.
And while you’re at it, store a copy in your family’s cell phones as well, in case an emergency occurs while you’re away from home.
Print, scan or make three copies of the Evacuation Plan, and store it in at least three secure, damage-proof locations. That way if one or two of the locations are inaccessible, you’ll still be able to grab the information you need.
If your Plan is on paper, you can place it:
In your watertight Plastic Evacuation Bin. Only place the documents that you actually need in this bin. If you’ll also have access to copies of your vital documents in your safe deposit box, then don’t take anything with you that you would worry about if it were lost.
In a safe deposit box or water/fireproof safe in your own city.
With your emergency contacts or with relatives in the city where you’ll be evacuating.
If your Plan is on computer, you can place it:
On a password-protected flash drive or portable hard drive, and take them with you during evacuation on a key ring or in your evacuation bin.
On a password-protected online file repository or even the file directory of your family’s personal web site. This way if you need a copy of your information or forms quickly, you can retrieve them from any Internet-enabled computer.
Save a link to the Plan on you and your family’s smartphones, so that you can all instantly access and use the plan whenever you need it.
Anything Else To Add?
Is there any other information you need, to deal with a medical emergency while evacuated or away from home? If so, scan or make copies of that information and place it in the same folder as your completed medical history forms.
If you need help creating Medical History Forms for your family, take a look at our blog post or download a copy of our How-To Sheet.
And if you’d like a copy of these instructions for later, click here to download the PDF Version.
Have Fun Getting Your Stuff Together! We’ll talk later…
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