A How To Guide On Preparing An Effective Emergency Home Evacuation Plan

June 4, 2021

Keeping you and your family safe is probably one of your top priorities. With that said, many of us don’t often account for disasters happening inside the home – after all, that’s our safe haven. But like they say, prevention is better than cure and although we trust these kinds of tragedies won’t happen to us, it’s better to have precautions in place just to be on the safe side. 

Think about the amount of sudden and catastrophic events you hear about in the news, like the number of deadly wildfires spreading throughout the globe due to climate change and the Earth’s rising temperatures. If you were one of the afflicted who lost their home in the Malibu fires back in 2018, what would you have done?

If disaster hits, you may have only a matter of minutes to gather your family and vacate your home – possibly forever. It may be daunting to think about but planning for the worst can help minimize the impact of a tragedy and could even perhaps save lives. In this article, we’re going to go step-by-step on how to plan for an effective home evacuation. 

1. Find and clear your escape routes     

It may seem obvious, but you should begin by rounding up each member of your household so together you can draft a plan of action. To start, walk around your home looking for all possible exits, including both windows and doors. The exits should all be easy to open and the route clear of any obstruction. If there are items blocking doors and windows, it may keep you from escaping the disaster. Ideally, each room should have two escape routes that are safe for each family member to use. 

Designate an outdoor meeting point a safe distance away from your home in case you are separated before or during the evacuation. Be as specific as possible i.e. 'the clock in the town square' to avoid any confusion. You may also wish to take extra measures by asking a non-local friend or family member to act as a means of contact for your household. 

If there are any infants, elderly or disabled people in your home, you should assign someone the role of helping them reach safety. It wouldn't harm to have a backup person too just in case the first cannot reach them.

2. Arrange a place where you can go

After you've figured out your escape routes, you need to determine where you can go in the event of a disaster. Depending on the scale of the tragedy and how accessible and reliable your chosen location is, for best practice, aim to have more than one option. This could be a friend or family member's house, a hotel, or a shelter. Keep these addresses and phone numbers safe - you may want to store them on your myFRP account under your Emergency Contacts. 

Once you have arranged somewhere to go, you should map out both primary and secondary routes to these locations in case roads are blocked. If possible, keep a physical map of the area on the off chance the GPS satellite is down or your devices run out of battery power. Remember to listen to local radio and TV stations for evacuation instructions. If you are advised to evacuate you should do so immediately.

3. Plan what to take with you

If you must evacuate your home, it could be the very last time you leave your property. To ensure you have everything critical to you and your family, you can put together a 'grab bag' with your important items inside. Of course, this will be different for every family but items to consider are:

-         Prescriptions

-         First aid kit

-         Water

-         Flashlight

-         Clothing

-         Special equipment for minors, elderly or disabled family members

-         Comfort items like special toys for children or cherished photographs

-         Pet food and any other items your pet may require e.g. a leash

4. Create a home inventory

The next step in your home evacuation plan is to put together a list of all your belongings. This may seem intimidating when you think of it wholly, however, if you need to make an insurance claim, having a list of all of your properties can make the process much easier and quicker. Moreover, doing this beforehand can highlight if you have purchased enough insurance to replace all of your personal possessions as well as substantiate any losses for income tax purposes.

5. Gather important documents

If you were to endure a catastrophe, backing up your important documents on your myFRP account can help reduce the stress of not having your physical records with you. However, if you wish to keep a hard copy, you should keep them in a safe place that can be easily accessed in an emergency. Documents you should consider keeping in a safe place are:

-         Prescriptions

-         Birth and marriage certificates

-         Passports

-         Drivers licenses

-         Social security cards

-         Insurance policies

-         Wills and deeds

-         Stocks, bonds, and other negotiable certificates

-         Financial information

-         Employment information

-         Home inventory

Tip: All of these can be stored digitally on your myFRP account.

6. Practice the 10-minute evacuation challenge

To ensure that you and your family are fully prepared for a sudden evacuation, you should practice your evacuation technique – ideally twice a year. Allow yourselves 10 minutes to gather your belongings, leave the premises and be on the road to safety. By planning ahead and practicing, you should be able to perfect your system of gathering all family members, pets, and other important items calmly and efficiently with minimum stress and confusion.

Disaster readiness is so important as it helps keep you and your family safe. Store your Home Safety and Emergency Evacuation Plans in the Household Management section of your myFRP account.

Emily Davies

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