The Home Evacuation Plan
A ‘home evacuation plan’ outlines the steps you and your family should take to safely exit the home in the event of an emergency (fire, terrorism, natural disaster, warfare or other threat).
What Is a Home Evacuation Plan?
A home evacuation plan is an exit strategy guide and map that helps everyone in the household to quickly get out of the house during an emergency situation.
It includes details like the location of exits, escape routes, safe zones and rescue / meet points. The goal is to help you navigate your way out of the house safely and efficiently should an emergency arise.
Everyone obviously knows their own home and all the exits, but you’d be surprised how inefficiently people respond to an emergency scenario, even in their own house. A little planning can fix that.
Having even the most basic home evacuation plan can be the difference between life and death.
For example, if there was a fire in your home, you would want to know exactly where the alternate exits are in case the front door is inaccessible and what route you need to take to get out safely as quickly as possible.
In addition, having an evacuation plan ensures that all members of your family know what steps they need to follow in case of an emergency – including visitors not familiar with the layout of your home.
How to Create a Home Evacuation Plan
Making your own unique plan is fairly straightforward but requires careful planning and research, despite it being about your own home.
Identify all possible exits from each room or area in the house – this includes both interior doors as well as external doors or windows that could be used to escape if necessary. Don’t forget to include any stairs or ladders that could be used as escape routes. If in a high-rise or apartment complex, these exit points need to be extended as such.
Identify multiple escape routes from each room in your home (also specific for each person’s bedroom), and make sure that everyone in your household is familiar with them. Once you have identified all potential exits, draw up a detailed map showing all routes with arrows pointing towards each exit point – this will make it easier for everyone in your family to understand how they should evacuate during an emergency situation.
Assign safe zones on your map where everyone must meet after escaping from their respective rooms so that you can easily account for everyone’s whereabouts once outside the house. These safe zones should be marked clearly with big arrows pointing towards them from any direction so that they can be easily spotted at night or during other times when visibility is low.
If for whatever reason, the safe zones are inaccessible or if anyone gets separated, designate a meeting place within walking distance. Choose a place outside of your home where everyone should go after evacuating as a secondary to the safe zones. This could be a neighbor’s house, a park or another location that is easy to find.
Prepare an emergency / survival kit; flashlights, first aid kit, water, snacks and outdoor clothes in a designated location that is easily accessible that anyone can grab in the event of an evacuation. Additionally or optionally, a high-value kit; documents, cash, jewelry, family heirlooms etc. should be packed in one bag ready to go as well. Finding each of these important items one by one in an emergency is not advisable.
If you have pets, have a system in place for quick exit mobility. Dogs will need leashes, cats will need cages, hamsters will need a small box and so on. Also, a go-bag for your pet’s needs to take care of them for a day or 3. It doesn’t have to be complicated, just think of what you’ll need if taking them with you when going on a short trip.
Make sure that everyone in your household has a list of emergency contact numbers, including the phone numbers of family members, friends, and local emergency services. A copy of this should be in each person’s phone as well as in the evacuation kit as a “digital go-bag“.
Regularly practice your home evacuation plan with your family, including fire drills and natural disaster drills. This will come in handy if the plan has to go live in the middle of the night when everyone is groggy, the practiced drills will help them make it through it.
Reasons to Evacuate
If there’s a fire in your home, you’ll need to evacuate immediately to avoid being injured or killed. Fires can spread quickly, so it’s important to evacuate as soon as possible.
If there’s a chemical spill near your home, you may need to evacuate immediately to avoid being exposed to harmful chemicals. Chemical spills can be very dangerous, so it is important to get away from the area as soon as possible.
If there’s a gas leak in your home, it’s important to evacuate immediately and call your gas company if you don’t know how long it’s been leaking and from where.. Gas leaks can be extremely dangerous, as they can lead to explosions or fires.
If your home is flooding or is happening outside, you may need to evacuate to avoid being trapped or injured. Floodwaters can rise quickly and unexpectedly, so it is important to be prepared.
If an earthquake occurs, you may need to evacuate to avoid being injured or trapped. Earthquakes can cause buildings to collapse, so it’s important to get to a safe location as soon as possible.
If a tornado is approaching, you may need to evacuate. Tornadoes can destroy homes and other structures, so it’s important to get to a safe location if your home isn’t equipped with an underground shelter.
If a hurricane is approaching, you may need to evacuate to avoid being injured or killed depending on the severity of the storm. Hurricanes can cause severe damage to homes and other structures.
Other reasons for a home evacuation plan could be; radiological emergencies such as a nuclear power plant accident, civil unrest or riots, terrorism attacks, active shooter situations, dam failure and wildfires.
While many people go about their lives without ever thinking about a home evacuation plan, it’s important to be prepared for the worst. By taking the time to develop a plan and share it with your family, you can ensure that everyone knows what to do in the event of an emergency. With a little bit of effort, you can give yourself peace of mind knowing that you’re prepared for whatever comes your way.
Having a well-planned and well-rehearsed home evacuation plan can help ensure that you and your family are prepared and able to evacuate quickly and safely in the event of an emergency. A comprehensive home evacuation plan can mean the difference between life and death.
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