Being prepared for an emergency evacuation requires planning. How you organize yourself and your family for an emergency can make the difference between escaping safely or incurring injuries. Evacuation drills provide the opportunity for you to test yourself and your family to ensure that you would, indeed, be prepared to conduct yourselves in an appropriate, rational way during an emergency.
Escape Routes and Meeting Locations
Establish escape routes from your primary residence. Create a variety of alternatives that account for several different types of emergencies. For example, if your house has a second story and a fire were to block the stairwell, have a route established for anyone on the top floors to escape. Establish a meeting location outside the home but nearby. A meeting place provides place to count heads and determine whether everyone made it outside; if anyone fails to make it to the meeting point, they are likely still inside the house.
Water, Gas and Electricity
More than one person in the household should know the location of the shutoff valves for the water and gas, and of the electrical fuse box, as well as how to operate them. Keep a set of any necessary tools next to the valves to make the task of turning them off quick and easy.
Store a set of basic foodstuffs and other supplies inside your house--enough to last for at least three days, preferably seven. Keep an emergency cupboard stocked with sanitation and first aid supplies, long-shelf-life prepared foods, canned foods, and water. Consider also including items like general-purpose tools, cash and communication devices or a radio. Do not wait for an emergency to try and gather the supplies you need; have everything ready and in a convenient location. Don't forget to include any critical prescription medications.
No amount of planning can account for human error. The best way to ensure that your family is safe is to give them the tools and information that they need to remain safe. This includes informing them about evacuation routes, meeting locations and the location of emergency equipment. Have each family member carry a family picture and an identification card at all times in case someone becomes separated from the group.
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