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Evacuation Planning Tips in Case of a Natural Disaster

Be prepared

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Planning well in advance of a devastating natural disaster requires knowing which sorts of extreme weather your area is prone to and how to best prepare your home for its effects. 

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The Department of Homeland Security recommends that every individual or family craft an evacuation plan that clearly outlines the steps they will take should local authorities order an area-wide evacuation.

To make an evacuation plan for yourself and your family, first make sure you have a way to receive emergency alerts and warnings. This will likely be through Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs), which are messages less than 90 characters long that appear like texts on phones. The NOAA Weather Radio can be an additional resource for National Weather Service alerts. Discuss how you plan to contact other members of your family and establish a family meeting place that is familiar and easy for all members to find. 

Secondly, plan where you will evacuate to and the safest route there. Identify several potential places in all directions where you may seek shelter. Think of a friend’s home, a neighboring town or a hotel. Consider staying at a mass care shelter, where food, water, medicine and other basic needs are often provided. Local open shelters can be found at Disasterassistance.gov. Do not forget your pets need shelter too. Many public shelters don’t allow pets, only service animals. 

Next, put together your “go bag” full of materials you will need to stay safe and healthy as you evacuate. Remember, you may be forced to evacuate on foot, so be sure the “go bag” can be carried long distances. 

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Finally, for people who feel an evacuation is imminent, keep a full tank of gas at all times. Power outages and emergencies may shut down gas stations. An emergency kit fitted with jumper cables, flares, blankets, maps and a car cell phone charger should be kept in your car at all times. If you are unable to evacuate in time, there are ways to stay safe during hurricanes, tornadoes, thunderstorms and other extreme weather scenarios