A family evacuation plan must contain critical details, including all possible exit locations from the home, where to meet, designation of responsibilities and an agreement about which out-of-area family member to contact. Discussing and practicing evacuation procedures ahead of time ensures everyone is prepared for an emergency.
When selecting a meeting location, identify two locales. Designate one meeting area close to home for sudden, contained emergencies, such as a house fire. The second location must be further away from the home but accessible in case of an area wide emergency, such as an earthquake.
The evacuation plan must also include decisions about where to stay until it is safe to return home, as well as multiple options for travel to the location. Typically, the second location is a hotel or a family member's house. Households with pets must consider them in their planning as well. For example, select a hotel that allows animals.
Prior to leaving, secure the home and all valuables. When drafting the evacuation plan, assign family members to shut off the electricity, gas and water lines, and unplug all appliances and electronics. Note that some emergencies require immediate evacuation, leaving no time to perform these tasks.
Selecting a family member who lives away from the emergency site is important for two reasons. First, local contacts may be contending with the emergency as well. Second, local lines may be down or busy due to the emergency. Provide the contact information to every member of the family well before the emergency.