Friday, July 31, 2009

Does you family have a evacuation plan?

If and when an emergency comes that requires you and your family to evacuate your home, there will be little or no time to make your plans. If you have an evacuation plan in place, and make sure that all family members know and practice what to do, you will have a tremendous advantage in the event you ever need to implement that plan.

Evacuation plans can be useful for many different types of disasters, especially for fires, riots, and earthquakes. House fires are one of the most common disasters people face in this country so it is important that everyone has an evacuation or fire escape plan, and practice it regularly. Everyone in your family should know the plan, even the little ones, so set aside an evening when the whole family can get together to make your emergency escape plan. Follow these simple steps and you will be ready for evacuation.

1. Make a map of your home with escape routes marked
Label every exit, including doors, windows, and hallways, which may become a potential fire escape.
In every room, label the primary exit (usually a door or hallway) and a secondary exit (usually a window) in case the primary exit is blocked by smoke or flames.
Label every room where a family member sleeps.
Label the main shutoff valves of the gas, electricity, and water lines.
Establish a safe meeting place outside the home so everyone can be accounted for.

2. Practice your emergency evacuation plan
It does little good to have a plan on paper. Practice will help you to learn how to improve your plan and will insure that all family members know exactly what to do.

It is important for everyone in the family to learn how to escape, including how to get out the windows. A good fire escape ladder is essential if your exit is through a window on an upper floor. You may want to arrange the furniture so a dresser or nightstand is under the window to make it easier to escape, especially through basement windows.

Place your emergency preparedness kits strategically near an exit so they are easy to grab in a hurry. Be sure to have a flashlight or light stick by each person’s bed to make it easier to find your way out at night.

Practice turning off utilities, but only pretend to do it. You do not want to actually turn off the gas during a drill. A gas wrench or other tool is needed for this. You should have an emergency evacuation drill four times a year, and vary the conditions so that you practice in different situations such as night, day, good weather, and bad weather.

3. Communication
Each family member must know where to meet after getting out of the house in an emergency. Make sure everyone knows that their number one priority is to get out quickly and go to the designated meeting place without delay and to wait there.

Be sure that each family member memorizes the phone number of an out-of-town, or even better and out-of-state person to call in case they are separated from your family. Have everyone memorize the phone numbers of other important contacts.

Evacuation plans can be life-saving for you and the ones you love. Disasters don't just happen to other people. They are very real and can happen to anyone at anytime. Take the time to plan and prepare and you will be very grateful you did.

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