When reports of a hurricane on the horizon start to come in, you must decide when and how you will evacuate. Ignoring the warning signs, or even worse, disregarding evacuation orders from local officials, could result in serious injury or death of you and your loved ones. High wind speeds, raging flood waters and sudden tornadoes all pose a serious threat to the health and well-being of people and animals in the path of the hurricane. Thankfully, you can streamline the evacuation process by having a plan in place long before the next storm starts to form. Here’s what you need to know about safely evacuating your family before a hurricane.
Create a Go Bag for Every Family Member, Including Pets
Every family member in your household, including all pets, needs to have a fully prepared and accessible go bag assembled well before reports of a tropical cyclone. Start with a waterproof bag for each person and pet, and then fill them with enough non-perishable food and bottled water for several days away from home. Add a few first aid items, flashlights, a change of clothes and maps with the family meeting spots and evacuation routes highlighted. The addition of petty cash is also a good idea, if possible.
Store a Comprehensive Emergency Kit in Your Vehicle
Select a vehicle you will use for your evacuation plan and equip it with a comprehensive emergency kit. In the vehicle, store extra water and non-perishable food for you, your family and your pets. Add extras of all other items you already put in your go bags, so you have them on hand if separated from your personal bags. Equip your vehicle with a full first aid kit with the over-the-counter and prescription medicine your family may need or uses on a daily basis. Pack a windup radio and extra batteries for your flashlights to stay safe and informed along the way.
Assign an Out of State Point of Contact
Overloaded local phone lines and the absence of power in many areas will make it difficult to relay information to and from your worried loved ones. To mitigate this issue, assign someone as an out of state point of contact for those in your inner circle. You can contact this person to provide information about your safety and whereabouts and learn about your friends and family’s status at the same time.
Plan Routes to Family Meeting Spots
To stick together during an evacuation, you must have family meeting spots established in case evacuation orders arrive with everyone outside of the house. Attach a time limit to the meeting spots so if no one else shows up within that period, your family members can follow the evacuation route before the storm hits. Mark the locations on your go bag and emergency kit maps to remind your family members where to meet up. Rehearse emergency meetings several times to ensure everyone completes the process with ease even in the face of panic.
Identify Possible Transportation Options
If your vehicle is inaccessible or disabled, you must have alternate transportation options identified to access them in a timely manner during an emergency evacuation. If you are able to act fast, you may be able to take a flight out of the area or hop on the local train or public bus, depending on emergency transportation available in your area. Identify the available options ahead of time, so you can move forward with your plans without delay.
Take All Evacuation Orders Seriously
If you receive official evacuation orders in your area, never second guess the information relayed to you. Evacuation orders from safety officials are created using wind and floodwater prediction models that indicate the level of danger that may be potentially caused by that particular hurricane. Since many other people will be evacuating alongside you and your family, make sure to leave as soon as possible to get out of the area before the storm hits land.
Have a Backup Plan to Shelter in Place for Sudden Storms
Timing is everything when it comes to hurricane evacuation. Even with the best plan in place, you may end up caught off-guard by hurricanes that rapidly form just off the coast. Little to no notice may result in your need to shelter in place rather than evacuate the area. You should create a solid backup plan for sheltering in place to prepare for this unexpected event. Once you are able to evacuate the affected area safely, you can then go ahead with your original plan, if still warranted.