According to FEMA, evacuations are becoming more common in the United States than most people even realize. Natural disasters, transportation accidents, and industrial accidents are just a selection of the headlining reasons families are forced to vacate their homes.
Some items that you can prepare now in case you need to evacuate are:
- First-Aid Supplies
- Phone/Tablet Chargers
Important Papers (keep in plastic bags/waterproof case)
- Driver’s License
- Deed to your Home
- Proof of Insurance
- Medical Records
- Social Security Cards
- List of Personal Contacts
Ask Yourself the Following Questions Before an Emergency:
Do You have a Pet Grab-and-Go Kit Prepared?
If you have any pets, make sure they are micro-chipped and they have I.D. collars that have your information on them. Also have a Pet Grab-and-Go Kit prepared, which may include:
- Meal Bowls
Is Your Landscaping Properly Maintained?
While you are thinking about items needed for an evacuation, make sure you are also maintaining your trees and shrubs. If there is a natural disaster, this will help prevent any diseased or weakened branches from falling on your home.
Where Are Your Utility Shutoffs?
Make sure you know where your utility shutoffs are, as well as understand how to safely shut them off. Common utility items encompass:
- Gas (may need special wrench)
Are You Located in a Flood Zone?
If you are a resident that lives near any tidal water, you are living in a flood zone. Make sure you have sandbags and/or materials to make sandbags. This will help prevent and reduce any flooding in your home. To create a 1-foot-tall and 20-feet-wide wall, you will need to have or create 100 sandbags. It will take about an hour for two people to create 100 sandbags.
Is There a Potential for Hurricane Damage?
If you are a resident that lives in a state where you are prone to have hurricanes, purchase shutters which will help protect your windows from breaking, as well as protect from any debris caused by wind.
Has Your Data Been Backed Up?
If you need to evacuate, please remember to back up certain data, including:
- Income Tax Documents
- Tax Records
- Personal Information on your computer
- Legal Documentation
Complete the Following Tasks Before Evacuating:
If you are required to evacuate (and you have time!), please complete the steps below as it will help prevent additional damages from occurring:
Clean up or remove any objects on the ground or in the trees that can break any windows or doors in the event of high winds. These items may include:
- Wind Chimes
- Lawn Furniture
- Garden Equipment
Make sure you turn off all utilities, including electricity, water, and gas. This will help prevent the following damages from occurring because of utility damage:
You will need to call your utility company to turn on your gas when returning home.
Windows and Doors
If you do not have shutters, you can also use plywood coverings to put over your windows. Do not just use tape. Instead, nail down the plywood, as tape will not prevent the windows from breaking.
If you have any additional valuables inside your home that you are unable to bring with you, put them on higher levels to prevent water damage. If you have additional sheets, blankets, or cloths, wrap your electronics to help prevent damage.
Since it is not safe for you stay, it obviously is not safe for your pet to stay. Make plans to stay at a friend or family member’s house. If not, find a hotel that is pet-friendly. Also understand that emergency shelters will usually only accept service animals.
Locking Your Home
When there are evacuations, there are usually individuals that take advantage of stealing items in homes. Make sure you lock all your doors and windows. Also remember to bring all your keys with you.
Abide by Evacuation Orders and Return Home Safely
When there is an evacuation order, whether it is mandatory or voluntary, you should evacuate immediately before the event gets any worse. In some areas, if you do not evacuate when it is a mandatory evacuation order, you may receive a large fine or jail time. If you choose not to follow the evacuation order, you are putting you life and your family’s lives in danger with no basic services, food, and/or water.
After returning home from the evacuation, do NOT use any matches, lighters, or any flammable sources that can cause spark until you are 100% sure there are not gas leaks in your home. Have a technician confirm the environment is safe.
Stay on Alert
As technology becomes more advanced, devices, such as smartphones, have made it more convenient to receive news and disaster alerts. Make sure your phones and/or tablets are fully charged to receive Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA). If you do not know if your mobile device has access to receive WEA alerts, please contact your mobile device carrier or visit CTIA (The Wireless Association).