Hurricane Preparedness: Create a Home Emergency Evacuation Plan

Written By: MJ Logan

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At least 60 percent of all people living in hurricane-prone areas don’t know their evacuation route and 80 percent don’t have a plan to evacuate. Although a hurricane may give a day or even two to prepare, the longer it takes, the harder it becomes to evacuate. News video often shows crowded roads, bumper to bumper traffic, and gas stations with “No Gas” signs posted on their pumps.

Any impending natural disaster—wildfires, floods, and hurricanes—could prompt authorities to order evacuations. Wildfires give much less warning than a hurricane and send people scrambling to escape without necessities. Evacuations as rising flood waters force people to leave with little more than the clothes on their backs.

Make it simple and quick with a Home Emergency Evacuation Plan that gets your family out with everything needed during and after the disaster.

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Before Hurricane Season

Hurricane Preparedness—Develop a Home Emergency Evacuation Plan

You can’t make an efficient or adequate Home Emergency Evacuation Plan at the last minute. By the time authorities order evacuations, little time remains to gather everything required. Depending on when it happens, you may not have access to everything needed. Create a plan before a hurricane or other disaster takes aim on your community so you can evacuate safely and quickly with everything you need.

  • Download and install the FEMA App to your phone. Included in the information it provides are lists of open shelters in your area along with disaster updates and important information.
  • Download and install a Fuel App to provide options on the road during an evacuation.
  • Decide where to go if you evacuate and how to get there. Multiple options are best and may include shelters, motels or hotels, and friends or family. The best options take you far away from the impending danger.
  • If you have pets, your destinations should include at least one or two options that allow them to stay. Most public shelters only accept service animals.
  • Identify official evacuation routes and their alternates. Add the directions to the evacuation routes to your evacuation kit. Local governments often funnel traffic from evacuation zones into specific routes to avoid hazards, decrease congestion, and speed up the evacuation.
  • Make a family communication plan to determine how you will communicate with your extended family and friends, household family members, and how to find each other and reunite if you become separated. Ask one person, preferably out of state, to be your single point of contact so they can inform other members of your family. Give them a list of people to contact in case you have to evacuate or lose communication options after a disaster.

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  • Assemble an Emergency Supply Kit in a portable Go Bag or Box. It should fit in your car or be easy to carry on public transportation if that is your plan. As conditions deteriorate, you might end up on foot. Try to keep the bag as light as possible.
  • Your pets need supplies too. Food, Water, Their Crate or however they travel. Don't forget leashes, collars, and identification tags. Never leave pets behind.
  • Don't forget to include medications. Anytime a disaster might threaten, renew prescriptions well in advance and keep at least a week supply on hand.
  • Seniors and Children, and those with special needs may have specific requirements not included in standard lists. Be sure to consider their needs and make it a part of the overall plan
  • Ahead of the hurricane season, store enough fuel in cans to fill the fuel tank half full. Mix it with fuel stabilizer according to directions. Perform required maintenance on time and keep the vehicle ready for a trip. Store a portable emergency kit in the car. If you have more than one vehicle, decide which to evacuate and which to leave behind. Only take one vehicle.
  • If you don’t own a car or it won’t make the trip, arrange travel plans with family or friends or determine public transportation options and verify operation with the public transportation department.

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  • Evacuation Route SignIf you suspect evacuation orders are coming, it’s best to leave as soon as possible and well in advance of the bad weather. The sooner you leave, the easier and faster you will get to your destination. You'll also have fewer problems finding and purchasing more fuel.
  • Ignoring evacuation orders increases the possibility of injury or even death. After the storm arrives, Requests for emergency services will overwhelm first responders. They may not be able to reach you in an emergency or may take a long time for them to respond. Services such as 911 may not work if you lose telephone or cell phone service. Failure to evacuate puts you and your family at risk.
  • Take your pets with you. You should already have a plan to care for them including where you shelter that allows pets or have another place to shelter them. It is a part of responsible pet ownership.
  • Take your Disaster Supply Kit and each person’s Individual Emergency Kit.
  • Do you have a small, inverter generator for emergency power? Take it with you if it fits in the car with everything else. You may need it when you return.
  • Pay attention to information provided on your FEMA App about local shelters, evacuation routes, and disaster updates. Use a battery-powered radio to stay informed and follow evacuation instructions. Your Portable NOAA Radio can also give you updates.
  • Let your single point of contact know your destination and ask them to inform everyone on the list. Remember to inform them again when you arrive at your destination.

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  • Secure your home. Close and lock all doors and windows. Unplug electrical equipment and appliances except for freezers and refrigerator unless it a flood is likely. Follow any instruction to shut off your electric service and gas service. Use the main house disconnect and the shut-off valve on the gas meter.
  • Leave a note inside that explains when you left and destination.
  • Wear sturdy clothing. Longs pants, long-sleeved shirts, a hat, cotton socks, and hiking shoes or boots. Include warm weather clothing in fall or winter months. Leave the flip flops, high heels, and sandals behind. Choose comfortable, practical clothing that offers protection from the elements and hazards.
  • Follow evacuation routes. Other roads may be blocked, over crowded, or impassable. Stay alert for road hazards. If you encounter flood waters, do not drive into flood water even if you see other cars doing so. Never enter moving water in a vehicle.

Prepare Now for The Atlantic Hurricane Season

After Evacuation

Debris and vehicles piled up by hurricane KatrinaDon’t try to return until it is safe and local crews have cleared your area.

  • Expect significant damage and disruption to everyday services. Remember that storm debris and flood waters might contain hazards and the risk of disease. Never enter flood water except to escape a life-threatening situation.
  • Before returning home, tell your single point of contact where you are going and when you hope to arrive.
  • Keep phones and tablets charged. Consider extra batteries for power outages.
  • Fill the gas tank. Check your fuel app for open gas stations.
  • Pack water and food for the trip. Remember that food at your home may be spoiled and unusable. Bring at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food and water.

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Implement Your Atlantic Hurricane Season Emergency Plan Now


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