Experts provide tips on making evacuation plans

Before an emergency requiring evacuation strikes, experts suggest families craft a plan of how they can exit their community safely and where they will go. Plans should include multiple travel routes.

In honor of September being National Preparedness Month, experts in emergency management and preparation offer the following tips to help families create an evacuation plan.

Before an evacuation

Families should be aware of the types of disasters that may occur in their communities such as tornadoes, flooding and ice and snow storms in various parts of the Northland. Families should then plan how they will leave and where they will go if advised to evacuate.

“Identify several places you could go in an emergency such as a friend’s home in another town or a motel. Choose destinations in different directions so that you have options during an emergency,” states release on www.ready.gov, a public service campaign site designed to empower families in emergency mitigation. The site is a partnership between the U.S. Office of the Inspector General, Federal Emergency Management Agency and other U.S. government agencies. “Be familiar with alternate routes and other means of transportation out of your area. Always follow the instructions of local officials, and remember that your evacuation route may be on foot depending on the type of disaster.”

Household emergency plans should be kept simple and easy to remember, states a release from FEMA.

“An information link to the outside is crucial,” states the release. “Post emergency numbers by the phone. Teach children how to call 911 for help. Teach responsible family members how to turn off the utilities in your home.”

According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the most important thing to remember during an emergency, is to stay calm.

“Some emergencies might knock out the electricity, that is why it is important to have a battery-powered radio nearby,” states a Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services informational booklet available at health.mo.gov.

Families should also craft a communication and reunification plan to maintain contact and reunite if relatives get separated.

If a family has a vehicle, the following is recommended:

• Keep a full tank of gas in it if an evacuation seems likely.

• Make sure the vehicle contains a portable emergency kit including needed medications of family members.

During an Evacuation

When evacuating, families should follow local agency instructions, seek out local shelters when possible and leave early enough to avoid severe weather.

If time allows, a family should:

• Call or email other relatives and tell them where the family is going.

• Secure the residence by closing and locking doors and windows.

• Unplug electrical equipment such as radios, televisions and small appliances. Leave freezers and refrigerators plugged in unless there is a risk of flooding.

• Wear sturdy shoes and clothing that provides protection such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts and a hat.

• Check with neighbors who may need a ride.

After an evacuation

After an evacuation, it is advised families check with local officials back home before travel.

“Residents returning to disaster-affected areas after significant events should expect and prepare for disruptions to daily activities and remember that returning home before storm debris is cleared is dangerous,” states the ready.gov release. “Let friends and family know before you leave and when you arrive.”

Before returning home, people should make sure vehicles have full gas tanks and all electronic devices like cellphones are fully charged.

“Bring supplies such as water and nonperishable food for the car ride,” states the release. “Avoid downed power or utility lines, they may be live with deadly voltage. Stay away and report them immediately to your power or utility company.”

Managing Editor Amanda Lubinski can be reached at amanda.lubinski@mycouriertribune.com or 903-6001.

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