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Well before a disaster or some unforeseen event strikes, you should be thinking about an evacuation plan in the event you and your family are forced to leave your home on short notice.  Emergencies can come in a variety of forms with varying preparation times; from storms with fair warning to a more immediate crisis, such as a fire.

An evacuation plan that is spelled out and shared with your family members well in advance is a good strategy for success, and overall safety, in case of disaster.  Consider where you will go and how you will get there, how you will stay in touch and who will know where you are.

STEP 1: Designate a place for all family members to meet while ensuring the meeting place is outside the impacted evacuation area.

STEP 2: Map out a primary evacuation route, including alternate routes in case your intended route is blocked.

STEP 3: Create a communication plan for use if family members become separated.  Develop an alternate plan that everyone is comfortable with in case there is no landline or cell service.  Remember that during certain emergencies, public safety officials will communicate the need to evacuate and other developments through various methods including the news media, social media, and alert broadcasts to smartphones.  These can be valuable information resources for individual family members should anyone become separated.

STEP 4: Be sure that you have ample fuel in your vehicle to reach your meeting place, remembering that you may not be able to take your preferred evacuation route.

STEP 5: Identify a contact person outside the affected area and give that person’s contact information to everyone in the family so he or she can serve as a point of contact, should you get separated.

STEP 6: Share cell phone numbers for texting, as text messages will often go through if cell service deteriorates.

STEP 7: Pack a survival kit and be sure it includes a portable radio, a cell phone charger, a charger for any tablets or laptops, as well as fresh batteries, to ensure you can get the most up-to-date information.  Don’t forget to bring any vital medications.