What to do if you have to evacuate your home in an emergency

There are a variety of reasons that you and your family might be forced to evacuate your home and head to a safe area. Wildfires, floods, hurricanes, and transportation accidents might leave your family with no option but to skedaddle. It might be your choice if your feel unsafe due to an impending natural disaster, or you might be required to leave by local officials.

You might not have lots of time to get out and go, so it’s crucial that you be prepared for the possibility of an evacuation, especially if you live on the coast or in another area that has a high risk of natural disaster. You need to have a plan so that you know exactly what to do and you can move out quickly and safely. We’ve got some preparation tips that will help make your emergency evacuation as smooth as possible.  

1. Know where you’re going.

Like we said, there are a lot of possibilities that you might face when it comes to nature’s wrath. You should have some different choices of places to go for different scenarios. It’s important to have options just in case—your plan could be foiled by unforeseen circumstances. You need a couple backups in case your first choice isn’t doable when it comes time to evacuate your home.

Your emergency destinations, whether it’s a family member or friend’s house, a hotel (although you should have more than one in mind), or a public shelter, should be in different directions. One route might become impassable, meaning that you’ll need to do an about face from that plan and head off somewhere else.

2. Plan the evacuation route.

You need to know what path you’ll take to get where you’re going. It won’t do you any good to be scrambling to figure out directions when you’re scared and pressed for time. Be familiar with your emergency route, and have a few different ways to get out of your immediate area. You never know what roads might be closed, damaged, or blocked.

Planning ahead can make a big difference if you have to evacuate your home.

3. Have a family emergency plan.

Everyone in your family should be clear on what to do if there’s an emergency situation. Make sure you all know where you’ll meet if you’re separated and how you’ll contact each other. A good idea might be to have a family member or friend outside of your immediate area serve as your go-between—your family might not all be together, and if you can’t reach each other you can keep your emergency contact informed about where you’re going so they can pass along the message.

4. Have the car at the ready.

If you think that an evacuation is impending, like if a hurricane has been forecasted or fires are approaching your area, have your car gassed up and ready to roll. Gas stations might not be able to provide gas or they might be closed. You’ll want to be able to drive without having to worry about your gas gauge creeping towards empty.

If you don’t have a car at your disposal, make sure that you have arrangements for getting a ride and that you’ve discussed emergency escapes with someone who can help you out.

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5. Get out quick.

Don’t linger. To beat the crunch of traffic caused by people trying to leave, get out as soon as you can if you need to evacuate. The more prepared you are with a disaster kit and your route plan the easier it’ll be to get away. Plus, you don’t want to get caught in any severe weather, which could put you and your family in danger.

Time is of the essence if you have to evacuate your home.

6. Take your disaster kit.

If you’ve prepared an easy-to-transport disaster kit in a duffel bag or empty trash bin, load it in the car and take it with you. Don’t leave it behind unless you think something’s happened to it that would make it unusable.

7. Listen to the instructions.

Tune in to local media to find out what you’re supposed to do to evacuate safely. There might be updates and announcements that are important, so stay tuned.

8. Take your pets with you.

Keep your pets safe. Don’t leave Spot and Fluffy at home. If you’re getting out of dodge, so should they. It’s not safe for them to be in the house when the disaster hits. Plan ahead and have arrangements so that you can bring them along when you evacuate your home. Be mindful of the fact that public shelters most likely won’t allow any animals other than service animals.

9. Gauge how much time you have and use it wisely.

If you have time, and only if you have time, you can take some measures to protect your home from the storm and prepare yourself.

If you have time, you can prepare your property before you evacuate your home.

Depending on what kind of a disaster is coming your way, you might have some time to secure your home before having to evacuate your home. You can:

  • Unplug smaller electronics and appliances. Leave the fridge and freezer plugged in unless flooding is likely.
  • Leave a note with your time of departure and your destination.
  • Clear the yard of anything that’s not secured—loose lawn furniture could get turned into missiles.
  • Turn off your utilities.
  • Relocate your valuable items to an upper level of your house in case it floods.
  • Protect your electronics by wrapping them up, preferably in plastic.
  • Lock up the house tight—board the windows and bolster the doors against the wind.
  • Change into clothes that are practical—good shoes, long pants, long sleeved shirt, etc.
  • Check in with your friends and family to see if they need any help or a ride.

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Evacuating your home is scary. You don’t know what you’ll face and how long you’ll be gone. But by taking the time to prepare now, you’ll be able to make things easier on yourself and your family if you ever need to evacuate due to a disaster. Have a plan and be ready to use it, and set aside supplies for your disaster kit. It never hurts to be overprepared, right? You might not think it will ever happen to you, but the truth is that it could. And that “could” is what makes this all so important.

Another way to protect your family and your home is with homeowner’s insurance. If you’re looking for insurance or if you’d like a free quote, let us know! We can answer any questions you might have about your coverage needs and we’re happy to help. Give us a call or fill out our form and we’ll be in touch!