Monday, October 22, 2007

Evacuation planning

Gathering Plan

Unless you work at home, homeschool your children and grow your own food, most of us are away from home for a large portion of the day. We may have to find a way to gather everyone together. Disasters aren't going to come convenient to our schedules.

1: Figure out where everyone is during the day. You should have done this when creating a communications plan, but do it now if you have not. This is contact information for work, school and play, including address, main and direct phone numbers.

2: Decide on a local alternate gathering place that is not home. You won’t be able to go home if it is burning down. Choose an alternate: a nearby park, church, school or family member’s house.

3: Decide on an out-of-state contact, phones will often be overloaded during a disaster but you may be able to get a long distance call out of the disaster area. If everyone is calling the same place information can be exchanged. Setting up a family blog is also a way to find each other after a disaster, Do it now at which is free and make sure everyone has the web address in their wallets.

4: Setup a distant evacuation point. This can be in-state but further is better. As we saw with the Blizzard of 1997 and Hurricane Katrina, disasters can cover multiple states. If you can travel 500 miles (about 2 tanks of gas) you will generally be out of the disaster area.

5: Scout out alternative routes. Everyone will think to use the interstate but that will clog them completely plan and practice alternative routes. During the evacuation for Hurricane Rita in 2005 many people used the county road system to escape at a much higher rate of speed then those who used the interstate. Be prepared for blocked roads so have a detailed maps or good GPS to find alternative routes. State Highways are usually better then an Interstate and County Roads are often the least used routes. Going North, East or South from Denver is pretty easy, going West can be a real challenge. Eisenhower Tunnel and Loveland pass are the routes most people think of, you need to think of a different way.

The Go Bag

For an evacuation it doesn't make too much difference if you're running from a wild fire, hurricane or tsunami. You really just need to grab the same things and go. Evacuation plans are a big deal if you have to go. You usually have very little warning. Ideally you want just one bag per person that you can grab on the way out the door. Really it probably won't be quite that good.

• Copies of your important documents (insurance cards, photo IDs, proof of address, deeds, bills, etc.) in a waterproof and portable container, double bagged in plastic zipper bags is fine.
• Contact and meeting place information for your household, and a small regional map.
• Keep a list of the medications each member of your household takes, why they take them, and their dosages. Medication information and other essential personal items. If you store extra medication in your Go Bag, be sure to refill it before it expires. A spare prescription to refill anywhere can be kept here.
• Extra set of car and house keys.
• Credit and ATM cards and cash, especially in small denominations, at least $50-$100 on hand, or enough to put the family up for a few days in a cheap motel.
• Bottled water and non-perishable food such as energy or granola bars.
• LED Flashlight and extra batteries wrapped with a couple of feet of Duct Tape.
• Battery-operated AM/FM (optional Weather/TV audio) band radio and extra batteries.
• Communications systems: Two-way radios of some kind: cellphone, FRS, GMRS, CB, or Amateur radios, and list of numbers or frequencies to call on. And extra batteries.
• First-aid kit.
• A multi-tool or swiss army knife
• Some parachute cord, chained for compactness.
• A couple large trash bags which you could make into a poncho if you have to.
• Paper and pen/pencil.
• A wide brimmed hat to keep sun and rain off.
• A Red bandanna has many uses including signaling.
• Child care or other special care items:
This would include things such as diapers, formula, toys, books, diabetic supplies, or anything else that may be needed to help sustain life.

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