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How to Make a Hurricane Evacuation Plan for Your Family

Posted by Jimmy Hawley on Mar 19, 2021 5:45:00 AM

How to Make a Hurricane Evacuation Plan for Your Family

Weather is always an uncertain thing, but if you live in Florida, it can be even more unpredictable.

Sometimes in a matter of hours, a hurricane, tornado or another tropical event can shift from a hurricane “watch” to a “warning"— and even a full evacuation order.

When disaster strikes, you need to be able to react in an instant. Waiting too long after an evacuation order is announced means getting caught in insane traffic and increasing your and your family’s risk of harm.

In order to act quickly, all Floridians should organize a clear family evacuation plan for leaving home with everything they need and getting to safety. 

Here’s how to develop a home evacuation plan so you and your loved ones can prepare for the unexpected:

Prep an Emergency Contacts Sheet

Every family member should have an emergency information sheet that compiles the phone numbers of every other person in the family as well as neighbors and out-of-state friends or relatives who might be the central point of contact. 

This list should include:

  • Phone numbers and email addresses of every person in the household
  • Phone numbers and email addresses of emergency contact friends or family outside of the household
  • Contact information for medical providers
  • Contact information for veterinary services, should you have pets
  • Contact information for where you plan to stay until the storm has passed

Each member of your household should have a physical copy of this on them in the event of a hurricane evacuation, in case they come into harm’s way and need assistance. Keep a copy in all your family member’s emergency backpacks or wallets for safekeeping. This is also an important document to send to your trusted out-of-state emergency contact(s) should they need to take action for you.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a handy reference sheet for adding emergency contacts and meeting places in a Family Emergency Communication Plan. Download the PDF from Ready.gov for step-by-step instructions for making one.

Have Your To-Go Bag Ready

When you evacuate, you won’t be leaving empty-handed. You’ll need an emergency bag ready-to-go so you’re not wasting time packing one when time is of the essence.

This should include:

  • Enough food and water to last for at least 72 hours
  • Clothing for the next 72 hours
  • Battery-operated radio, flashlight and lanterns— along with plenty of extra batteries
  • Extra keys for your home and car
  • Cash to tide you over if banks are closed or ATMs are not working
  • Medical supplies, including two weeks' worth of any prescription medication along with over-the-counter remedies you might need
  • Important papers and documents like insurance papers, birth certificates, social security cards, etc.
  • First aid kit that includes personal hygiene items, plus hand sanitizer and disinfectant 

Here are some more things you may want to include in your hurricane evacuation bag.

Don't Forget Your Pets

In an emergency, you also want to provide for your four-legged friends. Prepare a pet evacuation kit that contains food, bottled water, food dishes, medications, cat litter and pans, medical records and anything else you might need to keep your pet comfortable for a few days like special medications.

If you evacuate your home, take your pets with you in a carrier or on a leash or harness to prevent them from escaping in fear. Blankets with a familiar scent and toys can offer them additional comfort on the road and at an unfamiliar location. 

Not all shelters can accommodate pets, so have a backup plan to keep them safe if you cannot care for them, whether it's leaving them with out-of-state friends or family or having another out-of-state shelter on standby should you need to stay in hotels where pets aren’t allowed.

Establish Emergency Meeting Places

When is imminent, make sure your family can agree on two prime meeting locations:

  • Indoors. Choose a small interior, windowless room on the lowest level of your home to congregate with your family. It’s here you can double-check you have all your supplies and evacuate as a unit.
  • Outside your neighborhood. Should you or part of your family be out and about when an evacuation order hits and it’s not safe to come home, it’s helpful to agree on one meeting place like a grocery store parking lot, a community center or another friend’s home. The persons who are home should know where everyone’s emergency supplies are and grab preparations for those waiting from a distance.

Practice Makes Perfect!

It’s one thing to prepare a disaster bag and create an emergency contacts list, but when an emergency strikes, you need reassurance that you have all you need. After organizing your evacuation plan and emergency supplies, practice an emergency drill with your family. 

This could be a stimulating activity for young children to help them understand what a hurricane is and how seriously one needs to be taken. It’s an important time for them to ask questions and for the whole family to triple-check they’re all on the same page.

Don’t Wait to Prepare

In the event of a hurricane evacuation, the two most important things to do are to make sure that your family members and pets are safe and to have a few basics on hand to depart with peace of mind.

After preparing your family, you can shift your focus to protecting your home itself from costly or devastating storm damage. 

In our 19-page Hurricane Guide, we have all the advice you’ll need for protecting your windows, doors and garage from hurricane damage, as well as prepping the interior of your home for days without power. Download our free ebook, today!

Hurricane Guide

Topics: Hurricane Preparedness