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Get Through Any Disaster – What You Need To Know: Evacuation Procedures

Updated on February 26, 2009

Evacuation is a jarring process. After all, you are leaving your home and everything you own behind and you're not sure you'll ever see any of it again. You'll likely only be able to take a suitcase or two with you, and even that must be subordinated to the necessities in the disaster supplies that are your prime priority. Planning for evacuation immediately can considerably ease the anxiety and fear associated with this action.

Review all the evacuation options with your entire family. Now is the time to call your school and find out where the children would be sent to if an evac order occurred during school hours. Also call the local emergency management bureau and inform yourself as to your community's evacuation plans. Keep in mind that in most cases you are going to be far better off to avoid going to the shelters that are set up for the public as all you have to do is watch some tape of what happened in the Superdome to see if you want to be in a place like that with your family during a disaster evacuation. You'd be far better off in the home of a friend who lives outside the affected area, or even a motel in a safe area.

Always have your vehicles fully topped up with fuel. Don't ever store additional fuel anywhere near your house as that can be a major cause of explosions. Fuel availablity is usually the first major staple to disappear thus you should not take for granted that the local gas stations will be open. If you don't have your own vehicle, make arrangements with a close family member, friend or neighbor to get you out.

Before you leave your house for what could be the last time, make sure that the building is fully secure.

  • Unplug all appliances.
  • Turn off the main valve to your water and gas supply.
  • If you're in a cold weather area, ensure that you take whatever actions are required to keep the water pipes from freezing. This can include bleeding them.
  • Safely store anything that is combustible or can explode in any way.
  • Make sure your short term disaster supply kit is at hand and is the first thing to leave the house.
  • Once you're out follow the emergency evacuation routes that are determined by your community, municipality, or regional authority. Even if you know of a shortcut to avoid the traffic, police or natural actions may have sealed that off and you might get trapped. Also, keep the radio onto a local news station all the time. Always listen for emergency news.

Once the disaster subsides (if it subsides) don't even think of returning unless the local authorities have guaranteed that it's safe to do so. Ignoring this advice could get you shot as a looter.

Be extremely careful when entering any building. It could have been damaged, even if it is not immediately apparent, and could come crumbling down around you. Be very careful about wading into any flooded areas whether indoor or outdoor. All sorts of nasties like poisonous snakes could be swimming around. Not to mention that they might be electrified by a live line running through them.

Don't ever take a lit flame of any kind into a building that might even remotely be damaged. Use flashlights that are battery operated, never lanterns. If you smell gas even a tiny little bit, don't even use that flashlight. Get out of there immediately and contact the utility company or the fire department. Don't ever re-enter the building until the competent authorities have authorized your return. Needless to say, if you see any fallen wires anywhere, whether they be electric, cable, or telephone, don't go anywhere near them, and call the authorities. Don't go anywhere near any electrical appliance that either is wet or has been wet.

When you're traipsing around, make sure that you have extremely heavy soled work boots. Don't touch anything unless you're wearing gloves. Conduct a very careful review of all food and water supplies to ensure that they are not contaminated or spoiled.

Continued In Get Through Any Disaster – What You Need To Know: Coping With The Stress

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    • Hal Licino profile image

      Hal Licino 9 years ago from Toronto

      Thanks! Glad to be of service!

    • retirementhelp profile image

      retirementhelp 9 years ago

      Very useful!! I live in hurricane country and this is good info!!