Having an evacuation plan is very important for your family. In an emergency, every second counts, so you want to be as prepared as possible. Evacuation plans can be useful for many different types of disasters: hurricanes, tsunamis, and statistically more common, house fires. House fires are one of the most common disasters people face in this country so it is important that everyone has an evacuation or fire escape plan, and practice it regularly. Reading and watching "Your Survival Book and DVD" can be very helpful in designing your plan. Everyone in your family should know the plan, even the little ones, so set aside an evening when the whole family can get together to make your emergency escape plan. Follow these simple steps and you will be ready for evacuation.
1. Make a map of your home and include the following:
- Label every exit, including doors, windows, and hallways, which may become a potential fire escape.
- In every room, label the primary exit (usually a door or hallway) and a secondary exit (usually a window) in case the primary exit is blocked by smoke or flames.
- Label every room where a family member sleeps.
- Label the main shutoff valves of the gas, electricity, and water lines.
- Establish a safe meeting place outside the home so everyone can be accounted for.
2. Practice your emergency evacuation plan
No evacuation plan will work unless it is practiced on a regular basis.
- Involve everyone. It is important for everyone in the family to learn how to escape. You may even want to teach your children how to escape out of windows in case the door is unavailable to exit. A good fire escape ladder is essential if your exit is through a second story window. You may want to arrange the furniture so a dresser or nightstand is under the window to make it easier to escape, especially through basement windows.
- Place your 72 hour kits strategically near an exit so they are easy to grab in a hurry. When you practice, assign certain family members to be in charge of grabbing the emergency kit.
- Practice turning off utilities (gas valves, etc.). Caution: Don't really turn off the gas. If you do the gas company will have to come out and turn it on again. A gas wrench is a useful tool for this.
- Practice other life-saving habits such as always leaving a pair of shoes, gloves and a flashlight or lightstick at each person's bedside.
- Practice with time in mind. Try running through your disaster plan at least 4 times each year and adjust your plan according to the ages of family members.
3. Other Things to Keep in Mind:
- Designate an out-of-town and an out-of-state contact person for your family to call in case you separate. Have emergency and contact numbers posted by a phone and have everyone memorize the phone numbers.
- Practice using your 72 hour kit supplies. Make sure you include a good first-aid kit, including Burnfree pain relieving gel.
Evacuation plans can be life-saving for you and the ones you love. Disasters don't just happen to other people. They are very real and can happen to anyone at anytime. Take the time to plan and prepare and you will be very grateful you did.