National Preparedness Month | Family Evacuation and Communication Plan
September is National Preparedness Month, sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), an agency of the Department of Homeland Security.
The goal of National Preparedness is to get as many Americans as possible to take steps for emergency preparation, such as creating and practicing evacuation plans.
2017 National Preparedness Month Weekly Themes:
- Week 1: September 1-9 Make a Plan for Yourself, Family and Friends
- Week 2: September 10-16 Plan to Help Your Neighbor and Community
- Week 3: September 17-23 Practice and Build Out Your Plans
- Week 4: September 24-30 Get Involved! Be a Part of Something Larger
Participate in National Preparedness Month with us by creating and practicing your family evacuation and emergency communication plans with everyone in the household.
How to Create and Practice Your Family Evacuation and Communication Plan
1. Get Informed and Sign Up for Updates
In the event of a fire, gas leak, local or national disaster, it’s important to learn the basic preparedness strategies that can help you in all disaster situations.
- Learn about the local hazards that affect your area and what your plans are if they happen, such as floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, fires, landslides, and chemical spills and threats. For help, consult fema.gov and select maps.
- Consider purchasing a NOAA Weather Radio.
- Download the Red Cross and FEMA apps for weather alerts, updates, tips, and more.
- Text PREPARE to 43362 (FEMA) to get important updates sent directly to your phone.
- Read FEMA’s Be Smart: Know Your Alerts and Warnings.
2. Evacuating Guidelines
Sometimes, there won’t be much time to evacuate in the event of an emergency. Also, many disasters leave little to no time to gather basic necessities, which is why planning and preparation is essential.
- Download FEMA’s Emergency Supply List and update your emergency supply kits at least once a year. For more information on getting emergency kits ready for an emergency, visit ready.gov’s Build a Kit.
- Ask local authorities about emergency evacuation routes and attach the map or route directions to your emergency evacuation and communications plan.
- If you have the time, secure and lock all doors and windows when you leave. Unplug electrical equipment, such as TVs and computers, but leave freezers and fridges plugged in (unless there is a risk of flooding).
- Bring your emergency supply kit with you and don’t forget shoes and clothing that provide adequate protection.
- Make sure you have these important items in the car at all times, which includes things like a spare tire, car jack, jump starter kit, and more.
- Follow evacuation routes as instructed. “Short cuts” could be dangerous or blocked.
Emergency Evacuation Tips and Tricks:
- Keep a full tank of gas in the car if an emergency evacuation is likely. Try to keep at least a half tank of gas in the car at all times.
- If you don’t have a vehicle, make plans with a friend or local government for transportation arrangements.
- Get a hand-crank or battery operated radio and follow all local evacuation instructions.
- If instructed, gather your family and evacuate immediately to avoid being trapped by weather conditions.
- NEVER drive into flooded areas. “Turn around, don’t drown.”
- Never approach a downed power line. The ground could be energized. Alert the authorities if you see one.
3. Create Your Evacuation Plan
- Go through your home and inspect each room for two exits.
- Download and fill out NFPA’s Escape Planning Grid to mark all of your home’s exits. Revisit this escape plan with your family at least once a year and update it as necessary.
- Download the Department of Homeland Security’s Emergency Plan for Parents (PDF).
- Have different meeting spots for the different types of disaster scenarios: indoor meeting place (cellars, safe rooms, etc.), in-the-neighborhood meeting place (end of the driveway, neighbor’s home, etc.), out-of-the-neighborhood meeting place (library, school, church, etc.), and out-of-the-town/city meeting place.
As you create your emergency escape plan, take into consideration all of the following:
- The various ages of everyone in the household and their corresponding needs
- Responsibilities of assisting the young, elderly, and disabled
- Intuitive locations for meeting spots
- Prescriptions, medical needs and equipment
- Different languages spoken
Watch this video for more information:
4. Create a Communications Plan
Your emergency preparedness is not complete without collecting all the important contact information for your family and important people/offices, such as medical facilities, emergency personnel, schools, and service providers.
Luckily, FEMA has a free Family Communications Plan that you can download, print, and fill out. We highly recommend filling this form out and printing out a copy for everyone in the family.
Click here for a smaller emergency contact list from FEMA that you can fit in your wallet.
The wallet-sized document is for everyone to carry around on his or her person, such as a purse, wallet, or backpack. The larger family communications plan should be posted in a conspicuous area of the home, such as the refrigerator.
There is another Family Emergency Communication Plan that you can download and print at ready.gov/make-a-plan.
List of Emergency Preparedness Resources:
- Wallet Sized Emergency Communication Plan (PDF)
- Family Emergency Communication Guide (PDF)
- Emergency Plan for Parents or (PDF)
- Emergency Plan for Kids or (PDF)
- Emergency Plan for Commuters (PDF)
- Pet owners PDF
- Steps to make a plan (PDF)
- Tips on emergency alerts and warnings (PDF)
- Protect Critical Documents and Valuables (PDF)
- Document and Insure Your Property (PDF)
- Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (PDF)
- The FEMA app for disaster updates, resources, weather alerts, and safety tips.
- Download FEMA’s “Are You Ready? An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness”
5. Practice and Share
National Preparedness Month is the perfect time to review and practice your communication and evacuation plan with everyone in the household.
When do you call 911? When do you meet up at the local meeting spot? How will everyone receive their alerts? What is your evacuation route for different types of meeting places?
- Practice getting everyone in the household out of the house in a timely manner.
- Review the out NFPA’s Escape Planning Grid and the two exits out of each room.
- Gather everyone at your in-the-home and in-the-neighborhood meeting place. Review your out-of-the-neighborhood and out-of-the-town/city meeting places.
- Go over your communications plan and make sure everyone knows who and when to call your emergency contacts.
- Create a group list in your phone so when you send a text message, everyone in your list receives it. Short messages work fine, such as “I’m OK. At Mr. Smith’s house.”
- Discuss all the various meeting spots and modes of transportation.
- Go over your plan with everyone in the household at least once a year to make sure everyone knows whom and how to text or call and where to go.
- Teach everyone that 911 should only be called in the event of a life-threatening emergency.
Additional Fire Safety and Preparedness Tips:
- Test all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors once a month and replace batteries as necessary. All alarms should be interconnected so that when one sounds, they all do.
- Schedule a professional heating tune-up every fall to make sure heating and ventilation systems are operating safely and efficiently.
- Learn more heating and fire safety tips, including:
- Thanksgiving Cooking & Fire Safety
- Christmas Tree, Candle & Heating Safety
- Fireplace Safety
- Home Safety Checklist
For the best HVAC service in the Pacific Northwest, call Pacific Heating & Cooling at (253) 292-3995 for 24/7 service.
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