A natural disaster can occur at any moment and being prepared for a safe evacuation or “Bug out” is crucial to getting your family to safety. Still, in the midst of the chaos emotions can sometimes take over and become obstacles to exiting safely. By knowing a few tips for planning a safe evacuation you can overcome the anxiety of not being prepared to bug out in a disaster!
1. Plan Ahead
Don’t Wait to Go. Waiting until the last minute not only compromises the safety of you and your family but also any emergency responders who may have to put themselves in jeopardy to come to your rescue. If an evacuation is advised, leave. It is not worth taking the chance to wait.
Terms to know for Evacuation
- Voluntary (also known as Precautionary) – An emergency threat is not imminent but conditions exist that could lead to a disaster taking place (potential for loss of life or property). It is “recommended” to leave.
- Mandatory (also known as Imminent Threat) – An emergency threat is imminent, conditions exist for life and property loss. For safety purposes, all individuals are required to leave to assure survival. In most cases people will not be forcibly removed, however emergency services are suspended and not be available for rescue or medical assistance.
Gas Up! Make sure to fill up your vehicle’s gas tank as soon as an evacuation order is advised. Take only one vehicle whenever possible to keep the family unit together and cut down on traffic congestion. Remember there will probably be long lines both at gas stations and on the roads. In addition, if the electricity goes out, gas pumps will not normally work.
Have a Plan. Every family should have an Emergency Plan Checklist (Wildfire and Flood) and Emergency Supply Kit (both for the home and car). These both are crucial for disaster safety in the event of an urgent exit.
Any Special Needs? Remember to plan for any special needs for senior adults or young children before evacuating. Is anyone on an oxygen unit? Do you have to provide baby formula? Do not forget your furry friends? You may have to make special arrangements for them as public shelters will only allow service animals to be housed with families.
2. On the Road
Have a Printed Road Map. Every vehicle should always have a printed road map of the local area. In the event that cell phone service is interrupted and roads are closed to hazards, a map can be vital to finding alternate routes. Also keep a battery powered or crank powered radio, flashlight and first-aid kit in the car for emergencies.
Use Only Designated Routes. If a mandatory evacuation is ordered safe routes will marked and normally will have a Police, Fire and EMS presence. In the event that an emergency occurs, officials will get to you quicker if you are on a marked evacuation route. For safety, never take shortcuts that can lead into areas where storm damage may have occurred. NEVER drive into danger including roads with: standing water, downed power lines or storm-tree damage.
3. When You Arrive at Safety
Alert Officials to Any Medical Needs. Upon arrival at a safe destination or shelter, account for all family members. If there are any special medical needs alert officials at the shelter upon arrival.
Staying Safe in a Shelter. If staying in a public shelter be prepared for a little discomfort. Stay together as a family at all times and do not allow children to run around unsupervised. If possible leave valuables safely stored elsewhere and do not “flash” them around.
Begin FEMA Government Assistance Paperwork Immediately. Start any FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Assistance) disaster recovery paperwork as soon as possible. Be sure to have copies on your personal information: driver’s license, insurance policies, birth records and financial information. These will be necessary for filing insurance claims as well as accessing funds needed for government disaster assistance and temporary housing.
What Really Matters
In the end, while property loss can be devastating, your family’s personal safety is of utmost importance. By having a Safe Evacuation (Bug Out) Plan in place, your family will experience less anxiety and more comfort in a time of disaster.
If your home or business has been affected by a disaster (Fire, Flood or Storm) know that Reliable Restoration is available to you 27 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. With Reliable Restoration, your family is our family. You can visit us at www.choosereliable.com or contact us at: (678)325-1633.
Wildfire Fire Team image courtesy of mikeledray / Shutterstock.com