Is your household ready to evacuate? We talked about evacuating in the June 19th Meridian article, Evacuating-Don’t Forget the Birthday Cake, now it’s time to do one small thing each day to guarantee you are ready to flee with only minutes to spare.
It’s time to check your preparations to discover just how prepared you really are.
Including your children in your preparations will help them feel empowered and focused when the need to evacuate comes. Make August your evacuation preparedness month.
Thursday August 1st
Create a blank “Evacuation Priorities” chart. Do not fill in the blanks, we will do that in the next few days. At the top of column one write, “Items to be Collected” At the top of column two, “Location of Item” Column three, Family Member Responsible”. Column four, Items placed in the Car”.
Friday August 2nd
Evaluate your preparations to care for your pets.
- Have you assembled Emergency kits (remember 72 hours is not enough) for your pets? These should include: water, food, medications, up to date vaccination record and other medical records, collar, toys, food and water dishes, and sanitation disposal bags.
- Be sure you have someone who will care for your pets, outside of your immediate neighborhood, if you need to leave your home and cannot take them to your evacuation loaction.
- Make a list of foods and medications you need for a 1 month supply for each pet.
- Make a list of items you need to gather or purchase.
Saturday August 3rd
Place flashlights and/or glow sticks by every bed for use in the event of a nighttime emergency. We have plenty of candles, flashlights and glow sticks in our home but after fumbling in the dark to find them during a power outage I decided we would keep glow sticks in every room in our home, hung on every door knob. Sure enough, next outage I knew exactly where to find light. Yes, an evacuation may happen when the power has already gone out.
Sunday August 4th
Gather your family and let each member create a list of items they feel are important to take as they evacuate. Be sure to discuss beforehand the difference between items they need or want and those that are truly irreplaceable. Prioritize the list remembering to include items from all family members.
Monday August 5th
Get out the chart you created on August 1st and add the items you brainstormed last night. List in order of priority. Next decide as a family who will be responsible to collect each item and to place them in the car during an evacuation. Place the name of the responsible party in the appropriate spaces on your chart.
Tuesday August 6th
Gather items on your evacuation priority list. Place items together in a few locations around the house. All of a child’s important items could be in one box in their closet where they still have access to play with or use them. The family photos, important documents, and 72 hour kits could all be together in a closet close to the garage door.
Wednesday August 7th
Now that you have stored your items to be collected add the location of items to collect to your evacuation chart.
Thursday August 8th
Make a copy of your evacuation chart and place it on a cupboard door or in some other easily accessible location. When it becomes necessary for you to evacuate your chart will be easy to grab quickly so each family member can complete their tasks. You may want to post this chart in more than one location, just in case.
Friday August 9th
Place an extra set of important keys in adult Emergency Kits, safe deposit box, at work, next to your bed, and with a neighbor. Keys should include all cars, homes, homes of those you have promised to help evacuate, offices, recreational vehicles, mailboxes, safe deposit boxes, and storage sheds. Place your keys at the top of your kit where they can be easily grabbed if you only have minutes to evacuate.
Saturday August 10th
Go to the bank and get cash to place in all 72 hour kits. Now you are ready to evacuate and pay for needed items along the way to your evacuation destination. All bills should be small, $1, $5, $10, and maybe a $20 or two but mostly small bills. During a crisis change may not be available and you could end up paying more than you need to if you are caught without small denomination bills.
Sunday August 11th
Teach all family members when it is appropriate to call 911 and practice various scenarios until they feel comfortable with the questions they will be asked. See Meridian article Calling 911
Monday August 12th
Play What If
What if you were not at home when_____________________ happened? (Fill in the blank with the emergency most likely to occur in your area). Ask each family member, including the adults what they would do.
- What if you were at a friend’s home?
- What if you were at work?
- What if you were at school?
- What if you were shopping?
- What if you were home but mom and dad weren’t?
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<hr class=’system-pagebreak’ />0001pt; text-align: left;”>This will give you the opportunity to make sure your family knows who to call or-in the case of adults and teens-where your meeting place will be.
Tuesday August 13th
Check out the location of emergency shelters in your area. You can call city hall, the police department or fire department for help with this. If you have pets, be sure to ask if the shelter will accept pets. If your city does not have a plan for shelters maybe you need to attend a city counsel meeting and ask why.
Wednesday August 14th
Gather or purchase the items on your “pet needs” list and place them in a pet emergency kit. Be sure to list this on your evacuation chart so you are sure to grab it when the time comes..
Thursday August 15th
Check out which radio stations participate in the emergency broadcast system in your area. Be sure to check both AM and FM stations in the event one is not able to broadcast.
Friday August 16th
It’s shoe day! Place a sturdy pair of shoes under each bed in your home. These should be shoes that are not normally worn so they remain in place for a middle of the night evacuation or other emergency. If you have young children place the shoes where they can be easily found by an older family member, even in the dark.
Saturday August 17th
Create a snack pack. Place a few items in a basket or drawer with snack items and drinks to be grabbed as you leave. These will enable you to survive a long trip to your evacuation destination or a long, slow, drive on clogged roadways. You do not want to stop before you reach your destination. Stopping can cause you to lose your place in traffic lines and can also be dangerous if there is civil unrest. Rotate through this stash in lunches and snacks for road trips.
Sunday August 18th
Make a list of handicapped or elderly neighbors, friends, ward members, and family members who may need help in an emergency. Post their phone numbers and enter them into your cell phone contact list. During an emergency, call them to inform them of the possibility an evacuation may be required. As you evacuate call again to be sure they can get out.
Monday August 19th
Meet with another family tonight for Family Home Evening and take turns taking photos of the other’s family. Take photos of individual family members and a group photo, which includes all family members. Remember, pets are family members too. These photos will help if you are separated and need to post a photo or claim a family member. Your group photo will help to prove you are the parent, sibling, or child, of a “misplaced” family member. Individual photos can be used to give to first responders or to post on message boards if you have been separated.
Tuesday August 20th
Make enough copies of the photos you took yesterday to include in the Emergency Kits of all family members, to send a copy to your out of state contact, and two more complete sets (you’ll see why in a moment).
Wednesday August 21st
Mail one set of copies to your out of area contact, place a set in all Emergency Kits, take one set to work and place the final set in your Auto kit.
Thursday August 22nd
Purchase a map that will enable you to take a route that may be unfamiliar to you. Remember your GPS may not always give you alternate routes. Be prepared to use routes specified by the emergency officials when those are available. Do not use any road or shortcut unless you know they are safe but there may be routes through neighborhoods that are safe to use when main roads are closed. Mark several routes out of town with different colors of marking pens for easy reference during a time of stress.
Friday August 23rd
Purchase a car charger for your cell phone and leave it in the car. You don’t want to be searching for your charger when there are more important things to be thinking about. If there is a power outage associated with your evacuation a car may be the only way to charge your phone.
Saturday August 24th
Have each family member clean their room and then get out your video or still camera and take pictures. Open every door and drawer and shoot away. This inventory will be worth its weigh in gold if you should have to make an insurance claim after a disaster. Place the disc with these pictures in your 72 hour kit and at the top of your evacuation list. Send a second CD to your out of area contact. If you are not home when the disaster occurs your contact will be able to provide you with the proof you need for an insurance claim.
Sunday August 25th
Place emergency phone numbers in your 72 hour kits and in each car. Remember to include police and fire departments, hospital, doctors, dentist, ophthalmologist, poison control, schools, out of state contact, bishop, friends, family, and your own family phone numbers. During a stressful time you will forget information such as phone numbers.
Monday August 26th
Remember, every family member should have your out of area contact information. Teach your family to phone this contact immediately after a disaster strikes. Explain that this person will relay messages to the rest of the family as they check in. Tonight practice having each person call your contact so family members will feel confident doing so when the time comes.
Tuesday August 27th
Copy the following list and post it with your evacuation chart.
To Do Before Evacuating:
- Close and lock doors and windows.
- Close all inside doors.
- Unplug electrical equipment such as radios, televisions and small appliances. Leave freezers and refrigerators plugged in unless there is a risk of flooding.
- If you are leaving due to fire leave outdoor lights on. It will help firefighters see your home.
Wednesday August 28th
Add items for family members with special dietary needs to the drawer with your snack stash. You may have someone who is lactose intolerant in which case you may want to add almond milk and Lactaid. For a diabetic you may want to add hard candy and nuts.
Thursday August 29th
Add some entertainment. Purchase books on CD, Mad Libs, crossword puzzles, or anything else your family may enjoy doing together while stuck in traffic or a shelter. Place them in your glove box now and if you don’t need them for an emergency then you are ready for your next road trip.
Friday August 30th
Add food, medications and water for pets to your snack drawer. Remember you are going to use these items and rotate everything in this drawer but if you should have to evacuate you will have items together so you can get out quickly.
Saturday August 31st
Do a practice run. Set a timer and give your family 20 minutes to collect everything on your evacuation list and place it in the car. Be sure to have everyone check off the items as they place them in the car so they get used to this step and don’t skip it during a real evacuation. You will learn a lot. You may discover you need to purchase a car top carrier. You may discover you need both cars to fit everything in, but what if one car is unavailable? In this case you may need to prioritize which items to take if only one of the cars is at home at the time of evacuation. You may discover things have been moved and not returned to the place listed on your chart.
Being prepared is an attitude and a lifestyle as any good habit that becomes part of who we are and the way we choose to live. Children will want to be part of something they see as exciting and valuable such as being ready for unforeseen emergencies like weather events and civil emergencies. Now is the time to calm your family’s fears by teaching them how to prepare and helping them to find the reassurance that no matter what challenge they face, all will be well.
* Excerpt from Meridian article: Evacuating..Don’t Forget the Birthday Cake